A team of doctors from Taiwan had found four live bees living in a woman’s eye, a report from The Guardian can confirm.
As related by The Guardian, the 29-year-old woman simply identified by the surname He initially approached a hospital complaining of a swollen left eye. When doctors had a look, they found the insects under her eyelids, which had been sustaining themselves by feeding on her tears.
These specific creatures are known as Halictidae, or “sweat bees”, and are said to be attracted to human sweat. The incident with He is the first known case in medical history of these insects living in someone’s eye. Doctors at Fooyin University Hospital in Taiwan managed to remove the bees from her eyelids.
Dr. Hung Chi-ting, the hospital’s head of ophthalmology — which concerns itself with diseases of the eye — says he witnessed what looked like insect legs under the patient’s eyelids before gently removing them.
“I pulled them out under a microscope slowly, and one at a time without damaging their bodies.”
Doctors also say that the patient was very lucky, as He had not been rubbing her eyes. They added that because she was wearing contact lenses “she didn’t dare to rub her eyes in case she broke the lens.” Had she done so, she “could have gone blind.”
According to the BBC, He was tending to a family grave at the annual Chinese Qing Ming tomb-sweeping festival when some of the insects flew into her eye. Assuming it was dirt at first, she washed her eyes but noticed the swelling and a stinging sensation the next day. She was admitted to the hospital with a suspected infection but was quite surprised when doctors told her bees were present under her eyelids.
The bees were later shown on TV in Taiwan.
The doctor who examined He said that these bees “don’t usually attack people but they like drinking sweat, hence their name.” Speaking to a press conference, Dr. Hung said that sweat bees are usually found in and around mountains and graves, which could explain how they came into contact with He.
Sweat bees average five to 10 millimeters in length and belong to the same family as orchid bees and metallic green bees. They are also known to pollinate smaller flowers which may be bypassed by larger bees. Like most bees, they are able to defend themselves when threatened or handled roughly. However, their sting is said to be relatively mild.
The bees were not harmed when removed.