Inventions: Mitezapper

Entomology prof. invents nonchemical device that kills pests harmful to bees

By Fredricka Paul (Last updated: 08/28/09 6:25pm) Name: Zachary Huang, associate professor

Department: Entomology

Type of research: Entomology

Date of research: Huang has worked with bees since 1982, after he received a scholarship to conduct research in Canada. He had never seen a bee or tasted honey prior to receiving the scholarship.

Basics of research: Huang studies the social behavior and physiology of bees. He also studies bees’ roles in their colonies and how to kill bee pests, such as mites.

He said his job is broken up into three parts: Working with beekeepers around the world, traveling and teaching students.

Huang is currently studying a device he created, that will emit heat.

“It kills the pests and not the bees,” he said, adding that mites often attack the male members of the colony. “Mites are more sensitive to heat than bees.”

Social impact of research: “Mites are a big problem for beekeepers,” Huang said. The mite zapper he is working on would keep beekeepers from having to use chemicals to kill off the pests. Mites are becoming resistant to the chemicals used to kill them.

Huang’s invention would be more cost effective for beekeepers, also, he said, adding that it will be cheaper than purchasing chemical repellents. He said once they are on the market, they will probably cost $10 or $20.

People who like honey also will be affected because the honey will not contain any of the chemicals used to keep the pests off the bees.

Weird/interesting fact: There are three types of bees in a colony: workers, drones and queens. The queen’s only job is to lay eggs, Huang said.

“She doesn’t tell anyone what to do,” he said.

“She is an egg-laying machine.”

The worker bees’ job is to do all the work.

“They feed baby bees, go out searching for food and sting you,” Huang said.

A drone’s only job is to mate with the queen, but it can only do its job once. Drones die during mating, he said.

“It’s the structure of their genitalia,” Huang said.

“It explodes while mating with the queen.”

Funding for research: Huang has a $150,000 grant he received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture

Originally Published: 11/13/06 12:00am

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