1,000 Bees

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Bug Special"

Finding: BUSTED

Explanation: MythBusters Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage called in a swarm of bees to test whether a buzz-worthy viral video was actually real footage. The video shows a thousand or so bees lifting a lightweight laptop and whizzing it away into the air.

A combination of honey and bee-safe glue supposedly attracted and attached the bees to the computer in the original scenario, so Jamie and Adam approached the myth with the same setup but achieved opposite results. Although hundreds of bees stuck themselves to the laptop, they couldn't lift it even a centimeter.

To figure out the problem, Jamie and Adam calculated that a single honeybee could lift almost 100 milligrams, or roughly 80 percent of its own body weight. Applying that finding to the laptop's weight, the MythBusters deduced that it would take a terrifying 23,000 bees to achieve liftoff. However, the laptop's surface area could only make room for a maximum 2,300 bees, mathematically busting the myth.

Tossing another bee in the myth's bonnet, physics principles wouldn't permit the buzzing army to fly away with the laptop because the airflow beneath their wings would push down on the laptop. Too much downward force, too much weight and too little space add up to a triple-busted myth.

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