Robert G. Danka
Research Entomologist, Adjunct Assistant Professor
USDA Honey-bee breeding, Genetics and Physiology Laboratory
DEGREES: B.S. 1980 Pennsylvania State University
M.S. 1983 Pennsylvania State University
Ph.D. 1987 Louisiana State University
Current Research Interests
My current research involves breeding honey bees to enhance desirable economic characteristics, especially genetic resistance to the parasitic mites Varroa destructor (varroa mites) and Acarapis woodi (tracheal mites). Specific work seeks to determine pollination-related aspects of various genetic lines of bees being developed by researchers and bee breeders, and the genetic and environmental factors that limit the effective use of managed honey bees in pollination. The goal is to help maintain the availability of healthy honey bees for commercial agricultural pollination . I also seek ways to facilitate transfer of the technical breeding products to the U.S. honey bee industry. A further aspect of this program involves work with molecular biologists to understand the genetic components of important traits.
Previous areas of research included 1) assessing the pollinating effectiveness of Africanized bees; 2) developing methods to selectively eliminate remote, pestiferous colonies of Africanized bees; 3) determining the role of nest usurpation during the process of Africanization of existing bee populations; 4) evaluating the potential use of genetic resistance to tracheal mites in honey bees, defining mechanisms that regulate resistance, and improving the transfer of this technology to the beekeeping industry; and 5) searching for varroa-mite-resistant germplasm in populations of feral U.S. bees and in bees of far eastern Russia where natural selection for resistance is thought to have its longest occurrence.
I have taught the course “Biology and Management of the Honey Bee” (ENTM 4011) when there is sufficient student interest.