Honey Bee Biology Laboratory

Zachary Huang, Assistant Professor


Life was hectic for Zachary Huang since he first arrived here on November 1, 1998. Most of his time was spent running around to get the lab renovated, which involved a second moving of his office from 443 to 445B. Now lab renovation is basically done, with most of the major equipment purchased and installed. Several lines of research were started in the past year and things have started moving finally.

Ron Lin, Erik Foster, Candice Dusset, Zachary Huang, Ray Wang, Rob Yu.

Zachary's position here has a heavy extension component. Besides answering phones and replying to email messages, he managed to give 14 extension talks throughout Michigan and Indiana in 1999. Whatever spare time he had, he was on the net fixing the pages for www.cyberbee.net. He also co-taught Insect Physiology with Alex Raikhel in the spring semester of 1999. Research had a slower start than he would have liked but it is always difficult for a first year assistant professor. Research at the lab is a combination of basic and applied aspects of honey bee biology.

Ron Huarong Lin recently got his Ph.D. from Simon Fraser University under the supervision of Mark Winston. Ron's Ph.D. research focused on the regulation of reproduction in worker honey bees, and he did a systematic survey of various factors that affect vitellogenin synthesis and ovary development in workers, such as temperature, diet, worker age, group size, trophallaxis and the queen pheromone. Ron currently studies the effect of Nosema apis on honey bee behavior and physiology, funded by a USDA-NRI grant. The main purpose of this research is to determine the mode of action of Nosema apis, the pathogen of nosema disease in bees. Nosema infection makes workers forage and die younger and we suspect that this could be linked to juvenile hormone changes in the infected workers.

Ruiwu ("Ray") Wang started March 1999 as a postdoc and is co-advised with Ke Dong. Ray obtained his Ph.D. from China Agricultural University in 1998 and had experience in virus purification, monoclonal antibody generation and using mitochondrial DNA as markers for studying genetic variability in the Asian honey bees. Supported by a GREEEN grant and a grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture, his current project is to clone and sequence the sodium channel gene of the varroa mite, the most serious pest in honey bees.

Ronglin ("Rob") Yu obtained his Ph.D. from Agricultural University of Norway and successfully cloned honey bee queens by bisecting the early embryos and injecting them into de-nucleated eggs. He joined the lab January 2000 and is investigating the role of melatonin in regulating the social behavior in honey bees.

Joerg Schmid-Bailey is the newest member of our lab, he started in April 2000 as a Research Assistant. Joerg obtained his Ph.D. from Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University in 1999, with his doctoral research on non-chemical control of varroa mites. Joerg will be responsible in maintaining the 60 or so honey bee colonies in our lab and coordinate the research among lab members. He will also conduct a survey summer of 2000 for small hive beetles, which was introduced into Michigan last year and for resistant mites, which might have been responsible for heavy losses last year (many beekeepers experienced 70-80% winter loss).

Candice Dusset is an undergraduate who participates in the UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program). She is a freshman in the pre-vet program. She is currently working on the effect of stress on juvenile hormone changes in nurses and foragers. Erik Foster, a junior in Entomology, provides lab help and is applying for a SROP (Summer Research Opportunity Program) fellowship to join our lab's research team. He will be studying the mechanisms of carbon dioxide's effect on behavioral changes in workers. Carbon dioxide has shown to cause virgin honey bee queens to lay eggs (normally mating is required) and workers to begin foraging earlier, but the physiological mechanisms remain unknown.

International Travel:

During September, Zachary Huang was invited to give a symposium talk at the Apimondia International Bee Conference in Vancouver, Canada. Ron Lin also gave a poster presentation and the trip also allowed him to defend his thesis. In November, Zachary Huang traveled to China for a month to conduct research on mechanism of Asian bee's resistance to varroa mites. Apis cerana is the original host of varroa mites and similar to the selected mite-resistance bees here. The Asian bees seem to have a method of "birth-control" for the mites and the mites never build up their population to cause any damage. This research is supported by a USDA-Scientific Cooperation Program for three years. In March 2000, Zachary traveled to Thailand to attend a joint conference by the International Bee Research Association and the Asian Apicultural Association. Besides enjoying the conference, he also did some "bee-hunting" and for the first time has seen all four Apis species (mellifera, cerana, florea and dorsata) during the same trip.

Publications in 1998-2000 (numbered articles indicate refereed journal):

19. Robinson, G.E. & Z.-Y. Huang. 1998. Colony integration in honey bees: genetic, endocrine, and social control of division of labor. Apidologie 29: 159-170 (Invited review)

20. Schulz, D.J., Z.-Y. Huang & G.E. Robinson. 1998. Effect of colony food shortage on the behavioral development of the honey bee, Apis mellifera. Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology 42: 295-303 [pdf]

21. Pankiw, T., Z.-Y. Huang, M.L. Winston & G.E. Robinson. 1998. Queen mandibular gland pheromone influences worker honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) juvenile hormone titers and foraging ontogeny. Journal of Insect Physiology 44: 685-692 [pdf]

22. Huang, Z.-Y., E. Plettner & G.E. Robinson. 1998. Effect of social environment and mandibular gland removal on division of labor in worker honey bees. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 183: 143-152 [pdf]

23. Giray, T., Z.-Y. Huang & G.E. Robinson. 1999. Endocrine basis of genetic differences for behavioral development in honey bees. Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology 47: 17-28 [pdf]

24. Bloch, G., D.W. Borst, Z.-Y. Huang, G.E. Robinson & A. Hefetz. 2000. Haemolymph JH titer, biosynthesis rates, ovarian development and the social environment in Bombus terrestris. Journal of Insect Physiology 46: 46-57 [pdf]

25. Jassim, O., Z.Y. Huang & G.E. Robinson. 2000. Juvenile hormone profiles of worker honey bees during normal and accelerated behavioral development. Journal of Insect Physiology 46: 243-249 [pdf]

Huang, Z. Y. 1999. Regulation of division of labor in worker honey bees: the activator-inhibitor model. In (Eds: L.J. Connor & R. Hoopingarner) Apiculture in the 21st Century. Wicwas Press, pp 25-37

Huang, Z.-Y. & G.E. Robinson. 1999. Social control of division of labor in honey bee colonies. In (Eds: C. Detrain, J.L. Denoubourg & J.M. Pasteels) Information Processing in Social Insects. Birhauser, pp. 165-186

Wang, R., D. Ke, P.J. Elzen, J. Pettis & Z.Y. Huang. 2000. Altered sodium channel as a possible resistance mechanism of Varroa jacobsoni to fluvalinate. Proceedings of the American Bee Research Conference, American Bee Journal 140: 747. Abstract

Schmidt-Bailey, J., D. Westervelt & Z.Y. Huang. 2000. The Spartan Beetle Buster: testing of a new method for surveying the small hive beetle. Proceedings of the American Bee Research Conference, American Bee Journal 140: 907. Abstract

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