Cognitive radio sensor networks (CRSNs) have been proposed to serve as a reliable, robust, and efficient communications infrastructure that can address both the existing and future energy management requirements of the smart grid. The existing and envisioned applications of CRSN-based smart grid include substation automation, overhead transmission line monitoring, home energy management, advanced metering infrastructure, wide-area situational awareness, demand response, outage management, distribution automation, asset management. To realize these applications, in this paper, honey bee mating optimization-based routing and cooperative channel assignment algorithms have been proposed. The developed framework significantly decreases the probability of packet loss and preserves high link quality among sensor nodes in harsh smart grid spectrum environments. The proposed approach performance has been evaluated in terms of packet delivery ratio, delay, and energy consumption demonstrating that it has successfully addressed the QoS requirements of most of the SG applications presented. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.