Zachary Huang

Zachary Huang
Telephone: 517-353-8136

Department of Entomology

Associate Professor
Office address:
288 Giltner Hall

Mailing address:
288 Farm Lane Room 243
East Lansing, MI 48824

See a list of Zachary Huang's publications on Google Scholar.

MSU Apiculture Lab


At MSU, Prof. Huang’s  main responsibilities include research, extension, and teaching. He is known for developing the social inhibition model (at UIUC) which explains how nurse to forager transition is regulated, the mitezapper which is a non-chemical control for the infamous Varroa destructor, his (started in 1997 but developed mainly at MSU) for extension, and award winning photographs. He was awarded the J.I. Hambleton Award for Outstanding Research by the Eastern Apicultural Society of North American Inc. August 2008.  One honey bee scientist in North America is awarded each year and previous awardees include Prof. Gene Robinson, Member of the National of Sciences  and Swanlund Chair at UIUC and Prof. Thomas Seeley, Chair of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University.

Current assignment: Teaching 20% | Research 50% | Extension 20% | Service 10%

Program Description


Spring of odd years: Insect Macrophotography which includes basics of macro photography, focus stacking and ultraviolet and infrared photography.

Fall of even years: Social Insect Biology which will cover biology of bees, ants, wasps and termites and the hot topics in social insect biology. 


My lab focuses how stresses affect honey bees. Stresses include parasites (mites), pathogens (Nosema), insecticides (neonictinoids), temperature and transportation.  Our most recent results During the last five years my research program has focused on reproductive biology of Varroa destructor (varroa mites) and a fungal pathogen of honey bees (Nosema ceranae). We gained much understanding of whether and why varroa mites prefer younger workers (nurses) in more realistic colony conditions. Prior studies on host preference by this parasite has only used Petri-dishes and cages and not in colony settings. With Nosema ceranae, we have found that infection methods can cause a difference in worker mortality in cage studies, and mixed infection of two species of Nosema (N. ceranae and N. apis) are more deadly to caged honey bees, and these effects are also seen in colony settings.


My extension program is aimed to provide the newest research update on how stresses affect honey bees. These include research conducted in my lab: varroa biology, nosema effect on honey bees, how transportation affect honey bees, whether transgenic pollen affect honey bee health; as well as research conducted by other scientists (how nutrition affect honey bee stress resistance, varroa mite reproductive biology, etc). I also coordinate with Michigan Department of Agriculture to obtain emergency registrations (section 18) for new chemicals for treating varroa mites.

Professional Experience

  • 2004-Present - Associate Professor, Dept. of Entomology, Michigan State University
  • 1998-2004 - Assistant Professor, Dept. of Entomology, Michigan State University
  • 1993-1998 - Senior Research Scientist, Dept. of Entomology, UIUC
  • 1990-1993 - Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of Entomology, UIUC
  • 1988-1990 - Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of Entomology, University of Missouri-Columbia



High social impact papers, ranked by “Attention scores” by Altmetric, 28 or above represents top 5% in impacts.

Attention scores

Link to altmetric



A Meta-Analysis of Effects of Bt Crops on Honey Bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae)


Varroa destructor changes its cuticular hydrocarbons to mimic new hosts


Why do Varroa mites prefer nurse bees?


Socially selected ornaments influence hormone titers of signalers and receivers

Representative and Recent Publications

  • Huang, Z.Y., S. Lin, K. Ahn. 2016. Methoprene does not affect juvenile hormone titers in honey bee (Apis mellifera) workers. Insect Sci. doi:10.1111/1744-7917.12411
  • Tibbetts, E.A., K. Crocker, Y. Huang. 2016. Socially selected ornaments influence hormone titers of signalers and receivers. PNAS, 113: 8478–8483, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1602707113
  • Teichroew, J.L., J. Xu, A. Ahrends, Y. Huang, K. Tan, Z. Xie. 2016. Is China’s unparalleled and understudied bee diversity at risk? Biological Conservation doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2016.05.023
  • Xie, X., Y. Huang, Z. Zeng. 2016. Why do Varroa mites prefer nurse bees? Scientific Reports doi:10.1038/srep28228 [reported on MSU News, etc]
  • Huang, Z.Y. and Y. Wang. 2015. Social physiology of honey bees: differentiation in behaviors, castes, and longevity, Chapter in “Hive and the Honey Bee”, Dadant. pp 183-200.
  • Milbrath, M.O, T. V. Tran, W.-F. Huang, L.F. Solter, D.R. Tarpy, F. K. Lawrence,Y. Huang. 2014. Comparative virulence and competition between Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae in honey bees (Apis mellifera). J. Invertebrate Pathology, doi:10.1016/j.jip.2014.12.006.
  • Medved, V.,Y. Huang; A. Popadic. 2014. Ubx promotes corbicular development in Apis mellifera. Biology Letters. 2014;10(1). [reported by MSU news, Sciencedaily]
  • Cho, S., Y. Huang and J. Zhang. 2007. Sex-specific splicing of the honey bee doublesex gene reveals 300 million years of evolution at the bottom of the insect sex-determination pathway. Genetics 177:1733-41
  • Leoncini, I., Y. Le Conte, G. Costagliola, E. Plettner, A.L. Toth, M. Wang, Z.Y. Huang, J-M. Becard, D. Crauser, K.N. Slessor, G.E. Robinson. 2004. Regulation of behavioral maturation by a primer pheromone produced by adult worker honey bees. PNAS 101:17561-17564 [pdf]
  • Huang, Z.-Y. & G.E. Robinson. 1992. Honey bee colony integration: Worker-worker interactions mediate plasticity in endocrine and behavioral development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 89: 11726-11729 (cited in the text book “Animal Behavior” by J. Alcock) [pdf]

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