Simone Finstrom, Michael

USDA NIFA Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Faculty Affiliate: 
David Tarpy

Thomas Hall 1556 (Gardner Addition)



Research Area:

Honey bee biology, apiculture, social immunity, ecoimmunology

Mike Simone-Finstrom's research website

Tarpy lab website

Linksvayer lab website  (University of Pennsylvania)



B.S. (Marine Biology with honors), B.A. (English), University of North Carolina at Wilmington

PhD, Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota (advised by Marla Spivak, Entomology)


Current Projects and Research Goals:

The main interests of my research broadly lie within the fields of behavioral ecology and insect physiology under an evolutionary framework. More specifically I am largely interested in mechanisms of disease resistance and impacts of parasites on honey bees both at the individual and group/colony levels. I have been fortunate during my career so far to gather a diverse set of tools under my belt, ranging from basic beekeeping skills and field studies, to lab studies on learning, to pathology and molecular biology. 

For my PhD, I developed a new line of study on the role that propolis (honeybee-collected plant resins) has on colony-level immunity. There are still a host of questions related to the direct and indirect effects that propolis has on individual immunity and parasite transmission in addition to a more basic understanding of what makes a resin forager a resin forager. I will pursue some of these questions while at NC State, and plan to continue to explore them as I progress through my career.

Since starting at NCSU I have been working on three different main projects, often concurrently.

1. Genetic architechture of oxidatitive stress in honey bees. A highly collaborative project with David Tarpy (NCSU), Olav Rueppell (UNC-G) and Micheline Strand (ARL-ARO), later joined by Ming Huang and Hong-Mei Li-Byarlay investigating genetic, behavioral and environmental factors influencing aging and oxidative stress resistance within and across colonies.

2. USDA NIFA Postdoctoral Fellowship entitled, "Mechanisms of parasite resistance in honeybees: interactions among individual and social immune defenses." This project aims to understand integrative effects of individual immunity, genetic diversity, and social immune defenses on colony fitness. Using a bottom-up approach (from individual to population), this research sheds light on the evolutionary and ecological mechanisms of disease resistance in honey bees to better understand the natural defenses crucial to maintaining healthy and productive colonies.

3. Sociogenomics of queen quality. With David Tarpy (NCSU) and Tim Linksvayer (University of Pennsylvania), we are investigating possible markers of queen quality and the genetic underpinnings of "queenliness." For this, I am rearing thousands of honey bee larvae to emergence in vitro under controlled conditions. In addition, with the help of several biomathematics students, we have established accurate, high-throughput methods to measure various components of queen quality. This research has both strong applied impacts to the beekeeping community but will also provide new insight into how the sociogenomics of queen production in honey bees.


DeFelice, D., Ross, C., Simone-Finstrom, M., Warrit, N., Smith, D.R., Burgett, M., Sukumalanand, P., Rueppell, O. Geographic variation in polyandry of the Eastern Honey Bee, Apis cerana. 2015. Insectes Sociaux 62: 37-42. DOI: 10.1007/s00040-014-0371-5

Simone-Finstrom, M., Foo, W., Tarpy, D., Starks, P. 2014. Impact of food availability, pathogen exposure and genetic diversity on thermoregulation in honey bees (Apis mellifera). Journal of Insect Behavior, 27: 527-539. DOI: 10.107/s10905-014-9447-3

Simone-Finstrom, M., Huang, M., Tarpy, D., Rueppell, O., Strand, M. 2014. Effects of migratory beekeeping on worker longevity and oxidative stress. ABRC Symposium abstract. American Bee Journal, 154 (2).

Boncristiani H.F., Evans J.D., Chen Y., Pettis J., Murphy C., Lopez D.L., Simone-Finstrom M., Strand M., Tarpy D.R., Rueppell O. 2013. In vitro infection of pupae with israeli Acute Paralysis Virus suggests disturbance of transcriptional homeostasis in honey bees (Apis mellifera). PLoS ONE 8(9): e73429.

Simone-Finstrom, M. & Spivak, M. 2012. Increased resin collection after parasite challenge: a case of self-medication in honey bees? PLoS ONE 7(3): e34601. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0034601

Simone-Finstrom, M. & Spivak, M. 2010. Propolis and bee health: the natural history and significance of resin use by honey bees. Apidologie, 41, 295-311. invited review

Simone-Finstrom, M., Gardner, J. & Spivak, M. 2010. Tactile learning by resin foraging honey bees. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 64, 1609-1617.

Simone, M., Evans, J. & Spivak, M. 2009. Resin collection and social immunity in honey bees. Evolution, 63, 3016-3022.

Simone, M., Evans, J. & Spivak, M. 2008. Colony-level immunity benefits of resin collection by honey bees (Apis mellifera). Abstract published in American Bee Journal.

Bastos, E.M.A.F.*, Simone, M.D.*, Spivak. M., Jorge, D.M. & Soares, A.E.E. 2008. An in vitro study of the antimicrobial activity of Brazilian propolis against Paenibacillus larvae. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 97, 273-281. *authors contributed equally