On this day (Feb 27, 2010), it occurred to me that I should call my program BEST: HoneyBee-related Extension, reSearch and Teaching :) :)

B is for honeyBees.

Almost everything I do is related to honey bees. I teach about bees, study them, and travels around the world talking about bees, and I photograph them .

E for Extension

About half of my job responsibility is to reach out to beekeepers. What are the current concerns on honey bee health? Any new research development in Varroa control? What do I need to start up beekeeping? These questions and others are answered through the web, email, phone calls, or presentations at beekeeper meetings. A website started in 1997 (one year before I joined MSU),, receives over 5 million hits per year.

Some of my my writings for extension/outreach purpose:

Beebase (linking beekeepers with fruit and vegetable growers)

Stinging Insects (Bugs around your house)

Cicada killers [html format]

Carpenter bees [html format]

European paper wasps [html format] [print-friendly pdf format]

Yellow jackets [html format] [print-friendly pdf format]

Bumble bees [html format] [print-friendly pdf format]

Baldfaced hornets [html format] [print-friendly pdf format]

Honey bees [html format] [print-friendly pdf format]

Insects as pollinators:

Honey Bees |Bumble bees | Pesticides and Bees

eXtension Contributions:

Huang, Z.Y. 2012. Varroa mite reproductive biology.
Huang, Z.Y. 2011. Effects of Nosema on honey bee behavior and physiology.
Huang, Z.Y. 2010. Honey bee nutrition.
Huang, Z.Y. 2010. Anatomy of the honey bee.
Huang, Z.Y. 2010. Bees and social insects.

Access times (till April 1, 2013)

URL Access times 22773 8461 6832 6421 5780 5773 4136 3651 1886
 Total  68597


Huang, Z.Y., W. Pett. 2010. Using honey bees for fruit pollination. /Fruit/tabid/123/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/2340/Using-honey-bees- for-fruit-pollination.aspx

Huang, Z.Y., 2010. Sugar Dusting Your Varroa Mites, Michigan Beekeepers Associate Web: 2010/08/ sugar-dusting -your-vorroa-mites/

Huang, Z.Y., 2010. Small Hive Beetle Management in Michigan. Michigan Beekeepers Associate Web: web impact statistics for 2005-2007

2005 2006 2007
Successful requests (Jan 1 to Dec 31): 4,579,869 5,432,260 5,729,63
Average successful requests per day: 12,548 14,885 15,705
Successful requests for pages: 215,262 300,564 329,528
Average successful requests for pages per day: 589 823 903
Distinct files requested: 9,782 10,666 11,860
Distinct hosts served: 129,340 178,805 223,736
Data transferred (gigabytes): 76.003 102.736 107.072
Average data transferred per day (megabytes): 213.247 288.269 300.534
Top level domains reached 167 167 174

I noticed a rather large drop in the 2009 statistic. So I started thinking about redesigning and revitalizing the cyberbee website. The old styled html webs were difficult to update and I know I need something different. I am using the MBA website and the lab website (this page) as a testing bed to see what the new software (WordPress) can do.

S for Search, and Re-Search

Zach’s main research interest is in honey bee biology. His lab uses computational, behavioral, physiological, and biochemical methods to understand the social organization of a bee colony. He attempts to combine basic and applied research to develop a program that would benefit the beekeeping industry in the the state of Michigan and in the country.

Honey bees play a critical role in US agriculture. The most important role honey bees play is actually not honey production, but pollination. The value of crops that require pollination by honey bees, in the United States alone, is estimated to be around $24 billion each year and commercial bee pollination was valued around $10 billion annually. Honey bees also share one feature with the humans: they also have a highly organized society, albeit without the extensive government that we have. Honey bees are easy to rear and can serve as a model organism for many basic questions in biology. For these reasons honey bees have been well studied but still many questions remain.

One central question is their mechanism of division of labor. In other words, how do each worker know what to do in a crowded city with 40,000 other members? He has studied the physiological mechanisms of division of labor the last 18 years, first with Prof. Gard Otis (University of Guelph), then at the Robinson lab (University of Illinois), and still maintains a keen interest in this area. Currently they are studying various aspects of juvenile hormone in relation to task performance in honey bee workers. On the applied research front, he studies mechanisms of resistance of the Varroa mite to pesticides. Varroa mite is by far the worst threat to the beekeeping industry and has developed resistance to many pesticides we have used to curtail their effects on honey bees. As a member of the $4 million funded consortium, Zachary is currently studying the comparative pathology of Nosema ceranae and Nosema apis and determine whether there is competition between the two species.

MSU is one of the few universities with two honey bee scientists. Prof. Fred Dyer studies honey bee navigation and dances, and is the chair of Dept of Zoology. He and Zachary share the same field laboratory. For research in the laboratory of Prof. Fred Dyer, please check

T for Teaching

Teaching is a way not only to transmit knowledge, but also to trans-infect my enthusiasm for research and the subject (the honey bees!) to students. I emphasize interaction in the classroom and make students participate actively in the learning process.

I teach an undergraduate course: honey bee biology and pollination (fall of even years), and a graduate course, insect physiology (fall of odd years).

I was a Lily Teaching Fellow at MSU 2002-2003.