Insect Genetics Lab

Honey Bee & Bumble Bee Genetics Research


We are conducting research on genetic variation of honey bees from southern and central United States. This research is being conducted by Roxane Magnus, a MS student in the Social Insects Genetics Lab. Her MS research at the University of Arkansas, involves a population genetics survey of honey bees from central and southern United States. This applied research will provide important information on extent of mitochondrial DNA diversity of honey bees in this region. Her research found evidence of honey bee lineages that were introduced over 100 years ago and are still surviving in the feral population. She also sampled honey bees from queen breeders and found a lack of genetic diversity relative to the feral population. Based on her research, the introduction of feral honey bee genetic lineages to queen breeders, may increase the genetic diversity of honey bees in the United States. Her research results have already resulted in the exchange of feral German dark bee (A. mellifera mellifera) lineage queen honey bees from two sideliner beekeepers to queen breeders.

So far she has found evidence of four lineages of Apis mellifera (O, M, A, and C) from over 500 samples collected from 13 states.

  Here is a copy of her poster that she gave at the 2008 national meeting of the Entomological Society of America



Magnus, R.M.* and A.L. Szalanski. 2010. Genetic evidence of honey bees belonging to the Middle East lineage in the United States. Sociobiology 55: 285-296.

Population genetics and distribution of Nosema ceranae N. apis in the United States

Justin Whitaker is conducting MS research on population genetics and distribution of N. ceranae and N. apis in New York, South Dakota, and Turkey. Nosema ceranae is an invasive pathogen of honey bees and could be a factor in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).


Whitaker, J.*, A.L. Szalanski, and M. Kence. 2010. Molecular detection of Nosema ceranae from Turkish honey bees. Apidologie (in press).

Abstract: Polymerase chain reaction specific for the rDNA marker for Nosema ceranae and Nosema apis was conducted on 84 Apis mellifera samples collected from 20 provinces in Turkey. N. ceranae was detected from three samples from the provinces of Artvin, Hatay, and Mug ̆la. N. apis was detected in samples from the provinces of Sivas, Izmir, Bitlis and Gaziantep. All of the positive samples were from honey bees belonging to the ‘C’ lineage of A. mellifera. DNA sequencing analysis of the N. ceranae samples revealed that there was no intraspecific variation in the 208 bp of the 16S SSU of N. ceranae from Turkey. A TCS analysis revealed that the 16S SSU genotype from Turkey is identical to N. ceranae DNA sequences from Europe, Australia, and the United States. TCS analysis also revealed that this genotype is the basal ancestral genotype among six N. ceranae genotypes. This is the first study to confirm that N. ceranae is present in honey bees from Turkey.

New York

Szalanski, A.L., J. Whitaker, and P. Cappy. 2010. Molecular diagnostics of Nosema ceranae and N. apis from honey bees in New York. Proceedings of the American Bee Research Conference, American Bee Journal 150: 508.

Molecular diagnostics of the invasive honey bee pathogens, Nosema ceranae and N. apis, was conducted on honey bees from New York. A total of 1200 honey bee samples were collected by NYSDAM bee inspectors, of which, 528 (44%), from 49 counties had a positive Nosema spore count. Spore counts were the highest in the Spring and decreased into the Fall. PCR genetic analysis on 371 spore positive sampled revealed that 96% were N. ceranae, 3% had both N. ceranae and N. apis, and 1% had N. apis. Nosema ceranae was more common in commercial operations relative to sideliner and hobbyist beekeepers. A preliminary molecular phylogenetic analysis of N. ceranae from New York revealed that it is identical to N. ceranae from Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Europe and Australia.

Genetic structure of Africanized honey bee (AHB) populations in the United States

We conducted the first study of the genetic structure of AHB in the US. After sequencing some 200 samples using the mitochondrial COI-COII marker, we have found 12 different mitotypes of AHB from Utah, Texas, Florida, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. This amount of genetic variation for an invasive insect is surprising, and this data could be used in future for monitoring the dispersal of AHB in the US.

Szalanski, A.L., and R.M. Magnus*. 2010.Genetic structure of Africanized honey bee populations from United States. Journal of Apicultural Research 49: 177-185.


Genetic variation of honey bees from southern and central United States

These materials are not endorsed, approved, sponsored, or provided by or on behalf of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.