Zachary Huang

Zachary Huang

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Associate Professor
Department of Entomology



PhD - University of Guelph (1988)
BS - Hunan Agricultural University (1982)

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

MSU Apiculture Lab


Prof. Huang’s main responsibilities include research and extension. 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 method 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, Prof. Robert Page, former Provost at Arizona State University, and Prof. Thomas Seeley, Chair of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University.

Current assignment: Research 75% | Extension 15% | Service 10%

Program Description


My lab focuses how stresses affect honey bees. Stresses include parasites (Varroa mites), pathogens (Nosema), insecticides (neonictinoids), temperature and transportation.  During the last 20 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.  We are now studying whether immune priming using inactivated Nosema spores can protect honey bees.


My extension program is aimed to provide to beekeepers with the newest research update on how stresses affect honey bees. These include research conducted in my lab: varroa biology, effects of nosema and transportation on 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). These information empower beekeepers to manage honey bees more effectively. 

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?


Genes important for survival or reproduction in Varroa destructor identified by RNAi


Socially selected ornaments influence hormone titers of signalers and receivers

Selected Publications

Varroa stress

  • Huang, Z.Y., G. Bian, Z. Xi, X. Xie*, 2017. Genes important for survival or reproduction in Varroa destructor identified by RNA. Insect Science, DOI: 10.1111/1744-7917.12513
  • 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]

Nosema stress

  • 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.
  • Milbrath, M.O. $, X. Xie$, Y. Huang*. 2013. Nosema ceranae induced mortality in honey bees (Apis mellifera) depends on infection methods. J. Invertebrate Pathology. article/pii/S0022201113000773.
  • Wegener, J., Y. Huang, M. W. Lorenz, J.I. Lorenz, K.  Bienefeld*, 2013.  New insights into the roles of juvenile hormone and ecdysteroids in honey bee reproduction. Journal of Insect Physiology,
  • Goblirsch, M., 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.

Transportation stress

  • 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.

Temperature stress

  • Wang, Q., X. Xu, X. Zhu, L. Chen, S. Zhou, 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): e0154547. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0154547.
  • Li, Z.Y., Y. Xue, B. Ren, Z. Wang,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.

Pesticide stress

  • 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.

Social stress and hormones

  • Tibbetts, E.A.*, M.L. Fearon, E. Wong, Z.Y. Huang, R.M. Tinghitella. 2018. Rapid juvenile hormone downregulation in subordinate wasp queens facilitates stable cooperation. Proc Roc Soc B. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2645.
  • 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, Z.Y. Huang. 2016. Socially selected ornaments influence hormone titers of signalers and receivers. PNAS, 113: 8478–8483, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1602707113

Molecular biology

  • Li, Y., L. Zhang, Y. Yi, W. Hu, Y. Guo, Z. Zeng,Y. Huang, Z. Wang. 2017. Genome-wide DNA methylation changes associated with olfactory learning in Apis mellifera. Scientific Reports doi:10.1038/ s41598-017-17046-1
  • Liu, F., T. Shi, W. Yin, X. Su, L. Qi,Y. Huang, S. Zhang, L. Yu, B. Grace. 2017.  The microRNA ame-miR-279a regulates sucrose responsiveness in forager honey bees (Apis mellifera). Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 90: 34-42.
  • Medved, V.,Y. Huang; A. Popadic. 2014. Ubx promotes corbicular development in Apis mellifera. Biology Letters. 2014;10(1). [reported by MSU news, Sciencedaily]

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