Keith Forsyth, Montoux Award Recipient

"Keith Forsyth is one of the hardest working colleagues that I have served with. Keith has always stood out for his dedication to beekeepers and his passion and interest for apiculture. Keith always went above and beyond in his work ethic to get the job done." Paul Kozak, Provincial Apiarist

"Keith Forsyth has always been a very quiet, thoughtful and helpful person, excellent at inspecting bees and an excellent negotiator. Keith served many years as EAS Director for Ontario and looked after the honey at the Royal Winter Fair for the OBA honey sales. Thank you for being so helpful to your fellow beekeepers." Doug McRory

 

Keith began beekeeping in 1963 when introduced to apiculture in an agricultural studies course offered at his high school. He continued his learning by taking correspondence courses available from New York State and Pennsylvania State apiculture programs.  He had several mentors from the local beekeeping community who fostered his learning and helped him gain confidence to start his first two hives.

“I saved up my money with my parent’s encouragement and bought equipment from a beekeeping supplier in Brantford. The bees came from Georgia; they still allowed packages from the USA then. They arrived at Grimsby post office. The post office called and off I went to get my bees and install them in the hive. It was early April and it snowed the next day! I was in a fret but the local beekeeper reassured me they would be alright.“   Keith soon lost those bees as they swarmed, but the learning curve endured. 

Keith worked on fruit farms and eventually ended up working at Dofasco Steel in Hamilton.  He worked seventeen years as a Shift Foreman in the Labour Division. Keith continued to keep bees extending his lifelong learning.  He took courses at University of Guelph and workshops through OBA Tech Transfer Program.  In 1983, Keith became a Provincial Bee Inspector. He enjoyed that position until 2012 when he retired. 

Keith’s best advice to new beekeepers is “to learn as much as you can. Take accredited courses that provide unbiased material.”  

An active member of the Golden Horseshoe Beekeeping  Association, Keith especially likes the opportunity to participate in the agriculture education day that takes place at Ancaster Fair.  Introducing curious people, young or old, to beekeeping never gets tiring. “They are keen to understand honeybees and the important role they play in food production.  Bees are fascinating creatures and I never tire of them”.

Keith still maintains 36 colonies in a bee yard in Smithville and has extraction facilities at his home. “Extracting honey is my least favourite thing to do. I don’t like being kept inside and having to stay in one place.  Beekeeping is labour intensive work.  It gets easier with the right equipment and hoists, but you have to really like the work”. 

Keith is an early riser.  As I spoke to congratulate him on the nomination, he had just come in from clearing the driveway.  His brother, who lives next door, did not enjoy the wakeup call of noise from the snow blower at 6 a.m. 

Giving freely of time....truly a beekeeper helping beekeepers.