Click here to see a list of Zachary Huang's publications on Google Scholar.

MSU Apiculture Lab


At MSU, professor 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 professor Gene Robinson, member of the National of Sciences and Swanlund Chair at UIUC, and professor 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

Honey bee biology

  • 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
  • Medved, V., Z.Y. Huang; A. Popadic. 2014. Ubx promotes corbicular development in Apis mellifera. Biology Letters. 2014;10(1). [reported by MSU news, Sciencedaily]
  • Cho, S., Z. 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]

Pollination biology

  • Luo, C.W., Z.Y. Huang, K. Li, X.M. Chen*, Y. Chen, Y. Sun. 2013. EAG responses of Apis cerana to floral compounds of a biodiesel plant, Jatropha curcas. J. Econ. Entomol. 106(4): 1653-1658
  • Luo, C.W., K. Li, X.M. Chen*, Z.Y. Huang. 2012. Ants contribute significantly to the pollination of a biodiesel plant, Jatropha curcas. Environmental Entomology, 41: 1163-1168.
  • Luo C.W., Z.Y. Huang, X.M. Chen, K. Li, Y. Chen, Y. Y. Sun. 2011. Contribution of diurnal and nocturnal insects to the pollination of Jatropha curcas in Southwest China. J. Economic Entomology. 104: 149-154 DOI: 10.1603/EC10265.

Stress biology: Varroa destructor

  • Xie, X., Z.Y. Huang, Z. Zeng. 2016. Why do Varroa mites prefer nurse bees? Scientific Reports doi:10.1038/srep28228 [reported on MSU News, etc]
  • Le Conte$, Y., Z.Y. Huang$, M. Roux, Z.J. Zeng, J.-P. Christidès, A.G. Bagnères. 2015. Varroa destructor changes its cuticular hydrocarbons to mimic new hosts. Biology Letters 11: 20150233. ($co-first authors) (Featured on MSU news,,,

Stress biology: Nosema ceranae and Nosema apis

  • Milbrath, M.O, T. V. Tran, W.-F. Huang, L.F. Solter, D.R. Tarpy, F. K. Lawrence, Z.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.
  • Goblirsch, M., Z.Y. Huang, M. Spivak. 2013. Physiological and behavioral changes in honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) induced by Nosema ceranae infection: A potential detractor of social resiliency. PLoS ONE 8(3): e58165. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058165
  • Milbrath, M.O. $, X. Xie$, Z.Y. Huang. 2013. Nosema ceranae induced mortality in honey bees (Apis mellifera) depends on infection methods. J. Invertebrate Pathology. article/pii/S0022201113000773

Stress biology: Pesticides and land use

  • Teichroew, J.L., J. Xu, A. Ahrends, Z.Y. Huang, K. Tan, Z. Xie. 2016. Are bees at risk in China, one of the world’s largest providers of pollination ecosystem services? Biological Conservation,
  • Chen, Y.-W., P.-S. Wu, E.-C. Yang, Z.Y. Huang*. 2016. The impact of pyriproxyfen on the development of honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies in field. Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology, 19: 589-594.

Stress biology: Transgenic plant pollen

  • Wang, Y., Y. Li, Z.Y. Huang, X. Chen, J. Romeis, P. Dai, Y. Peng. 2015. Toxicological, biochemical, and histopathological analyses demonstrate that Cry1C and Cry2A are not toxic to larvae of the honeybee, Apis mellifera. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry DOI:10.1021/acs.jafc.5b01662
  • Huang, Z.Y., A.V. Hanley, W. Pett, J.J. Duan. 2004. Field and semi-field evaluation of impacts of transgenic canola pollen on survival and development of worker honey bees. Journal of Economic Entomology 97: 1517-1523
  • Hanley, A.V., Z.Y. Huang, W. Pett. 2003. Effect of transgenic Bt corn pollen on larval development of honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) and greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella L.). Journal of Apicultural Research 42: 77-81

Stress biology: Temperature

  • Wang, Q., X. Xu, X. Zhu, L. Chen, S. Zhou, Z.Y. Huang*, B. Zhou*. 2016. Low-temperature stress during capped brood stage increases pupal mortality, disorientation and adult mortality in honey bees. PLoS ONE 11(5): doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0154547
  • Li, Z.Y., Y. Xue, B. Ren, Z. Wang, Z.Y. Huang. 2016. Drone and worker brood microclimates are regulated deferentially in honey bees, Apis mellifera. PLoS ONE 11(2): e0148740. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0148740

Stress biology: Transportation

  • Zhu, X., S. Zhou, Z.Y. Huang. 2014. Transportation and pollination service increase abundance and prevalence of Nosema ceranae in honey bees (Apis mellifera). Journal of Apicultural Research 53: 469-471. DOI 10.3896/IBRA.
  • Ahn, K., X. Xie, J. Riddle, J. Pettis, Z.Y. Huang. 2012. Effects of long distance transportation on honey bee physiology. Psyche. doi:10.1155/2012/193029.

Biology of bumble bees, wasps and roaches

  • Tibbetts, E.A., K. Crocker, Z.Y. Huang. 2016. Socially selected ornaments influence hormone titers of signalers and receivers. PNAS, 113: 8478–8483, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1602707113
  • Shpigler, S*, A. J. Siegel, Z.Y. Huang, Guy Bloch. 2016. No effect of juvenile hormone on task performance in a bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) supports an evolutionary link between endocrine signaling and social complexity. Hormones and Behavior. DOI: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2016.08.004
  • Shpigler, H., E. Amsalem, Z.Y. Huang, M. Cohen, A.J. Siegel et al. 2014. Gonadotropic and physiological functions of juvenile hormone in bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) workers. PLoS ONE 9(6): e100650. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100650

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