Tarpy, David R.

Professor and Extension Apiculturist

Program area: 

Honey bee biology


1558A Thomas Hall (formerly Gardner Addition)

Department of Entomology, Campus Box 7613, NC State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7613


B.S. Biology Hobart College (1993)

M.S. Biology Bucknell University (1995)

PhD. Entomology University of California, Davis (2000)


Our lab studies the behavioral ecology of insect societies, with a primary focus on the proximate and ultimate mechanisms of honey bee queen behavior. In doing so, we attempt to address questions of basic science that have practical relevance. Our approach is to integrate a general understanding of bee biology to help improve overall colony health and productivity; in an era when the honey bee population is being severely impacted by any number of factors, we feel that it is necessary to become more proactive in asking questions that address not just basic (long-term) or applied (short-term) questions, but both.

Some of our current areas of basic and applied research include:

  • Queen rearing and instrumental insemination
  • Colony collapse disorder and the potential roles of nutrition and genotype
  • Mating behavior and reproductive success of queen bees
  • Regulation of pollen foraging and crop pollination
  • Competition and lethal fighting among virgin honey bee queens
  • Understanding the genetic structure of social insect colonies using PCR-based molecular techniques, particularly microsatellite markers
  • Behavioral ecology and evolution of social insects

Current list of publications

Google Scholar


ENT 203 An Introduction to the Honey Bee and Beekeeping [webpage]

Introduction to honey bee biology and a fundamental understanding of beekeeping management including crop pollination by bees. Examination of the relationships between honey bees and humans from prehistoric through modern times and the behavior andsocial system of one of the animal world's most complex and highly organized non-human societies. Course Offerings: Each Fall semester. Enrollment: 180 students.


ENT 401 Honey Bee Biology and Management [webpage]

A hands-on distance education course in honey bee management including bee pollination of selected crops based on an understanding of bee biology, bee behavior, bee pathology, and bee botany. Course Offerings: Spring semester, odd years. Enrollment: open.


ENT 601/801E Social Behavior of Insects [webpage]

Graduate-level discussion of eusocial insects and other social groups. Co-instructors: John Meyer, Ed Vargo. Course Offerings: Spring semester every third year.



Coordinator of beekeeping workshops in Basic Beekeeping, Queen Rearing, and Bee Breeding. Webmaster of an internet-based apiculture site, devoted to the dissemination of information and knowledge pertaining to honey bees and bee management. Coordinator, director, and content manager of the new Beekeeper Education  & Engagement System (BEES). The BEES network offers a variety of online beekeeping mini-courses for beekeepers at all levels. The content is divided into three general topic areas (honey bee biology, management, and industry) and three ascending levels of engagement ('Beginner', 'Advanced', and 'Ambassador').

Other links of interest:

Lab home page: http://entomology.ncsu.edu/apiculture

North Carolina State Beekeepers Association (NCSBA)

North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS)

NC AHB --a comprehensive web site about Africanized bees in North Carolina

BeeLinked-- an online market for growers who require honey bee pollination and beekeepers who have hives for rent

County Extension Offices (NCSU Cooperative Extension)

The North Carolina Honey Bee Research Consortium (NCHBRC)

NC State Social Insect Working Group