The MythBusters The MythBusters

MythBusters Episode 156: Bug Special

Premier Date: December 1, 2010

One thousand honey bees are capable of lifting a laptop.


Adam and Jamie started by covering a laptop with bee-friendly adhesive. They started attaching bees to the laptop and found that the at least five times more beehive frames were required to cover the laptop than were shown in the video this myth was based on. Still, the bees could not lift the laptop.

Small-scale tests indicated that an average honeybee could carry 96 milligrams of weight; based on this result, it would take at least 23,000 bees to lift the laptop. Adam counted the number of bees per square inch in the beehive frames, measured the laptop’s surface area, and calculated that only 2,300 bees would fit onto it. As a further demonstration, Jamie used toy helicopters to show that any lift generated by the bees’ wings would be counteracted by the force of air being pushed down onto the payload, making it impossible to lift anything as shown in the video. He and Adam declared the myth busted at this point, then described a method by which the video could have been faked – by attaching fishing line to the laptop, covering it with bees, and hoisting it with an off-camera stick or handle.

Bags of water hung from the ceiling can repel flies.


This myth is based in the theory that refracted light in water confused flies’ compound eyes.

The Build Team made a rig consisting of three chambers separated by trap doors. The first chamber would hold the flies, the second would hold some rotten meat, and the third would hold both rotten meat and a bag of water. They then released over 5,000 flies from the first chamber and waited to see how many flies would go into each of the other two. After the chambers were sealed off, they let all the flies die and collected the corpses to weigh for comparison. The chambers with and without the water contained 35 and 20 grams of flies, respectively, busting the myth.

A person riding a motorcycle at high speed can be killed from the impact of hitting a bug.


Doing some research, the Build Team discovered that the most vulnerable point on the human body was the throat; an impact with 76 pounds of force could cause the windpipe to swell and suffocate the victim. They attached a force plate to a mannequin torso, put it in a sidecar attached to a motorcycle, and had Tory drive at 85 miles per hour so that the plate would hit an insect suspended at throat height. Tests with a common fly, a cicada, and a Goliath beetle (the largest flying insect they could find) yielded 10, 37, and 100 pounds of force, respectively.

To investigate the speeds needed to inflict a lethal injury at head or chest height, the team set up an air cannon to fire a Goliath beetle analog at the force plate. An impact at 120 mph gave 285 pounds of force, while a test at 200 mph (described as the speed of the fastest motorcyclist ever to get a traffic ticket) yielded 500 pounds. Although neither of these was high enough to result in a fatal injury, the team deemed the myth plausible, since a heavy enough insect hitting just the right spot on a rider could lead to his death.