Zhang Lab

The Zhang lab focuses on multiple research areas including:

  • Honey bee pesticide toxicology and detoxification
  • Biological control for honey bee varroa mites
  • Honey bee nutritional ecology
  • Interaction between domesticated honey bees and wild, native bees
Dr. Ge Zhang wearing yellow WSU Bee program shirt

Pesticide exposures in honey bees and other pollinators are a primary driver of high honey bee colony mortality and global pollinator decline. Zhang’s interests lie in using different methods and techniques to either reduce pesticide exposures or apply pharmaceutical treatments post pesticide exposures with potential detoxifying agents. The current lab research explores how enzymes with pesticide-degrading capability can be used to recuse honey bees from pesticide poisonings.

Varroa (Varroa destructor) is a major honey bee pest and a primary contributor to colony losses, alongside pesticide exposure. Metarhizium, a sporulating soil fungus, has the potential to be developed as a biopesticide for Varroa control. Dr. Zhang is collaborating with Dr. Brandon Hopkins to study the effects of Metarhizium on Varroa control and to discover new strains of Metarhizium that are more effective and tolerant to warmer temperatures.

The research on honey bee foraging in agricultural landscapes aims to provide recommendations to local beekeepers for estimating colony nutrition and managing supplemental feeding when wild forage may not be continuous throughout the growing season. The research on the interaction of honey bees with wild bees seeks solutions that support both honey beekeeping and wild bee conservation.

Pictured: paper bag filled with Metarhizium sporulated on organic brown rice on top of honey bee frames
This paper bag contains Metarhizium sporulated on organic brown rice

Values and Philosophy

Our lab respects and promotes the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The lab’s goal is to initiate collaborative and creative research projects that can significantly contribute to the protection of honey bees and wild bees.

Join the Lab

Prospective postdoctoral researcher(s) and master graduate student(s) may be hired in 2025 depending on funding availability. Interested individuals are encouraged to contact us at ge.zhang1@wsu.edu about future opportunities in the lab.

Recent Publications

Zhang, G., Dilday, S., Kuesel, R. W., & Hopkins, B. (2023). Phytochemicals, Probiotics, Recombinant Proteins: Enzymatic Remedies to Pesticide Poisonings in Bees. Environmental Science & Technology, 58(1), 54-62.

Zhang, G., Murray, C. J., St. Clair, A. L., Cass, R. P., Dolezal, A. G., Schulte, L. A., Toth, A. & O’Neal, M. E. (2023). Native vegetation embedded in landscapes dominated by corn and soybean improves honey bee health and productivity. Journal of Applied Ecology, 60(6), 1032-1043.

Zhang, Ge, Kersten, M., Owen, A., & Skidmore, A. (2023). Honey bee foraging and pesticide exposure in a desert urban agroecosystem. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 249, 114472.

Zhang, G., Olsson, R. L., & Hopkins, B. K. (2023). Strategies and techniques to mitigate the negative impacts of pesticide exposure to honey bees. Environmental Pollution, 318, 120915.

St. Clair, A. L., Zhang, Ge, Dolezal, A. G., O’Neal, M. E., & Toth, A. L. (2022) Agroecosystem landscape diversity shapes wild bee communities independent of managed honey bee presence. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 27, 107826.

Zhang, G., St. Clair, A. L., Dolezal, A. G., Toth, A. L., & O’Neal, M. E. (2022). Can native plants mitigate climate-related forage dearth for honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae)?. Journal of economic entomology, 115(1), 1-9.

Zhang, Ge, St. Clair, A. L., Dolezal, A. G., Toth, A. L., & O’Neal, M. E. (2021). North American Prairie Is a source of pollen for managed honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Journal of Insect Science, 21(1), 17.

Hall, M. J., Zhang, Ge, O’Neal, M. E., Bradbury, S. P., & Coats, J. R. (2021). Quantifying neonicotinoid insecticide residues in milkweed and other forbs sampled from prairie strips established in maize and soybean fields. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 325, 107723.

Zhang, Ge, St. Clair, A. L., Dolezal, A., Toth, A. L., & O’Neal, M. (2020). Honey bee (Hymenoptera: Apidea) pollen forage in a highly cultivated agroecosystem: limited diet diversity and its relationship to virus resistance. Journal of economic entomology, 113(3), 1062-1072.