Welcome to this Special Issue of Insect Molecular Biology, containing the ‘companion’ papers to the publication of the Honey Bee genome sequence in Nature (Nature443, 931–949, 2006). This Special Issue arose as the result of a request from the Honey Bee Genome Sequencing Consortium to the Editors of IMB and one which we have been glad to take on. It is the first such venture for IMB and we hope that you enjoy the diverse papers, all arising as the result of having an insect genome, and demonstrating the exciting times ahead for insect molecular biology as more genomes become available. Putting together such an Issue has needed a lot of hard work and good will from authors, referees, the IMB Editorial team and Blackwell publishing and we would like to thank all of them for making it possible. It may well open up new similar ventures in the future. Any such requests should go to the IMB Editors, either Lin Field or David O’Brochta.