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Ontario Beekeepers' Association: Since 1881
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June 28, 2015
Dear <<First Name>>,

As you'll read below, the small hive beetle has reared its ugly head in Ontario again. We have initiated discussions with OMAFRA about how best to proceed for the future. We don't have a lot to report at the moment on this issue, but we wanted to let you know that we are working on it and that we will keep you informed as we progress.

I spend most of my time in the bee yards these days, but I try to take as many calls as I can from members. I know many of you are concerned about SHB and also about GFO's recent move to create legal hurdles for beekeepers using farm land. We are disappointed that GFO executive has chosen this route as we don't believe they reflect the values of most farmers, or the even the majority of their members. You can call me on this issue as well. 519-221-4077.

All the best,
Tibor Szabo, President

Small hive beetle advisory - Niagara Region

Earlier this month OBA was notified by OMAFRA that inspectors reported small hive beetle 'in a single bee yard in Niagara Region, outside of the existing SHB quarantine area in southwestern Ontario. A small scale beekeeper in Niagara has tested positive for the presence of SHB. These colonies do not move within or out of province for pollination services.'  This information was posted on our website. OBA immediately expressed its concern to the Ministry by phone and officially by letter, requesting a meeting to discuss the issue with regard to containment, management and inter-provincial trade issues. That meeting is scheduled for July 29th.

As we understand it, this beekeeper did not depopulate his hives or destroy equipment.

Up to now, the primary containment strategies have been quarantine in Essex and part of Chatham-Kent, and depopulation with compensation for the affected beekeeper for outbreaks outside of the quarantine area. The compensation fund has now been depleted and we have been informed that it will not be renewed.

We know that there is growing concern in the beekeeping community that the SHB has, in fact, expanded beyond what is currently reported. We are not able to confirm this, as only OMAFRA has the authority to inspect or report on pests and diseases.

However, OBA is anticipating that at some point, if not now, efforts to contain SHB through quarantine and depopulation could outgrow their effectiveness. We are currently in the process of reviewing options and recommendations to OMAFRA for the next steps in containment and treatment of the pest. In the meantime we are not supporting depopulation without compensation. 

We encourage all beekeepers to follow the guidelines put forth by OMAFRA, including checking for the presence of SHB in your honey bee colonies on a regular basis and reporting any finds to your bee inspector. This is important as we need to track the movement of this pest.

The presence of SHB is dismaying but not unexpected. It is a common problem in the U.S., including our border states. We have been told by beekeepers with direct experience with SHB that managing SHB is on par with Greater Wax Moth and that it is primarily a problem for weak hives. However, no one wants yet another beekeeping challenge at a time when bees are already facing multiple issues.

Be advised that your OBA is putting considerable attention in exploring strategies to contain and manage this pest and will be providing more information to members as the issue evolves. As well, we are working on a special section of the website for information, management recommendations and links to resources on SHB to be completed by mid-July.

Drop us a note with any concerns, questions or ideas.

GFO advises members to impose legal conditions on beekeepers

In a recent letter to members, the chair of the Grain Farmers of Ontario, reacting to new regulations to limit the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments, indicated that his members will likely resort to foliar sprays that are even more toxic to bees. The letter also warned, "such applications may be more harmful to bees than the seed-based treatment that has been banned," and encouraged members to require legal waivers from beekeepers, implying that beekeepers are taking legal action against farmers. OBA knows of no such legal actions on the part of beekeepers and considers GFO's actions to be a wrongheaded tactic to bring pressure to the government.

Beekeepers and farmers have always gotten along. We're farmers, too. We are not opposed to the judicious use of pesticides within an IPM program. We use pesticides, ourselves, to control insects in our hives.

We know that GFO's position does not reflect the voice or actions of the majority of Ontario's farmers, but if you are experiencing problems as a result of GFO's strong-arm tactics, please let us know. 

On another note: Take a look at OBA's submission to the Provincial, Federal, Territorial Agricultural Stakeholder consultation: Protecting Pollinators, Rebuilding Public Trust.

Local association members: have we got a deal for you

If you are a member of a local beekeepers' association, we are providing a 25% discount from now until the end of July on your 2015 membership (good until December 31st). All members now receive a mailed copy of the OBJ and, as well, you are eligible for the affordable group insurance plan and discounts on other meetings and events. Look here for more information on the value of membership, but call Sylvie at the office at 905-636-0661 to join with the discount as we aren't able to adjust the on-line form for this short term offer. (Note: If you aren't a member of a local association you're missing out on a great opportunity to meet and learn from other beekeepers. To say nothing of the coffee and cookies.)

Coming up in the Ontario Bee JournalIf you are an OBA member, the July/August edition of the OBJ will be in your mailbox around July 1st. You can look forward to articles this month on label requirements for honey in Ontario, opportunities for international volunteering as a beekeeper, book reviews, how to master the fine art of cutouts, how to set up a bee yard, and the latest in Ontario's new regs. And more. If you aren't a member you can join or renew now  and still receive this issue and the remaining issues coming up.

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