Standard methods for molecular research in Apis mellifera

Written by
Journal of Apicultural Research Vol. 52(4)
DOI 10.3896/IBRA.
Date September 2013
Article Title

Standard methods for molecular research in Apis mellifera


Jay D Evans, Ryan S Schwarz, Yan Ping Chen, Giles Budge, Robert S Cornman, Pilar De la Rua, Joachim R de Miranda, Sylvain Foret, Leonard Foster, Laurent Gauthier, Elke Genersch, Sebastian Gisder, Antje Jarosch, Robert Kucharski, Dawn Lopez, Cheng Man Lun, Robin F A Moritz, Ryszard Maleszka, Irene Muñoz and M Alice Pinto


From studies of behaviour, chemical communication, genomics and developmental biology, among many others, honey bees have long been a key organism for fundamental breakthroughs in biology. With a genome sequence in hand, and much improved genetic tools, honey bees are now an even more appealing target for answering the major questions of evolutionary biology, population structure, and social organization. At the same time, agricultural incentives to understand how honey bees fall prey to disease, or evade and survive their many pests and pathogens, have pushed for a genetic understanding of individual and social immunity in this species. Below we describe and reference tools for using modern molecular-biology techniques to understand bee behaviour, health, and other aspects of their biology. We focus on DNA and RNA techniques, largely because techniques for assessing bee proteins are covered in detail in Hartfelder et al. (2013). We cover practical needs for bee sampling, transport, and storage, and then discuss a range of current techniques for genetic analysis. We then provide a roadmap for genomic resources and methods for studying bees, followed by specific statistical protocols for population genetics, quantitative genetics, and phylogenetics. Finally, we end with three important tools for predicting gene regulation and function in honey bees: Fluorescence in situhybridization (FISH), RNA interference (RNAi), and the estimation of chromosomal methylation and its role in epigenetic gene regulation.


Apis mellifera, pollination, disease, development, genomic, Colony Collapse Disorder, population genetics, methylation, RNA interference, RNAi, Southern Blot, Northern Blot, In situ Hybridization, DNA extraction, Next-generation sequencing, mitochondrial DNA, microsatellite, quantitative PCR, COLOSS, BEEBOOK, honey bee

Full text
Open Access