Doctors in Taiwan treating a young woman with a swollen eye discovered four bees living beneath her eyelids, feasting upon her tears.
The 28-year-old woman – who’s been referred to as Ms He – had been weeding the grave of a family member during the annual Chinese Qingming tomb-sweeping festival, when she felt something enter her left eye.
Believing she’d just got some soil in her eye, Ms He tried to wash it out with water. However, by the end of the day she’d experienced swelling and a sharp, stinging pain.
The next morning, Ms He went to hospital believing she had an infection. However, she couldn’t have guessed what doctors would find underneath her eyelids…
After examining Ms He’s eye with a microscope, doctors were shocked when they extracted four sweat bees from her tear duct.
Sweat bees, also known as Halictidae, are reportedly attracted to sweat and also like to drink tears. In this case, they’d been dining out on the moisture and salt of Ms He’s tears.
Ophthalmology professor at the Fooyin University Hospital, Dr Hong Chi Ting, recalled the horrifying discovery while speaking to the BBC:
She couldn’t completely close her eyes. I looked into the gap with a microscope and saw something black that looked like an insect leg,
I grabbed the leg and very slowly took one out, then I saw another one, and another and another. They were still intact and all alive.
Images of the bees were later broadcast on Taiwanese TV, which you can check out below:
Dr Hong believes the sweat bees – which are said to not usually be aggressive – had been blown into Ms He’s eye with a gust of wind, becoming trapped.
Thankfully, Ms He has since been discharged after her terrifying ordeal, and is expected to make a full recovery. And it would appear she’s had an extremely lucky escape.
Had Ms He rubbed her eye – as would have been sorely tempting – she may have caused the bees to release venom, leading to her potentially losing sight in her eye.
Dr Hong explained:
She was wearing contact lenses so she didn’t dare to rub her eyes in case she broke the lens. If she did she could have induced the bees to produce venom… she could have gone blind.
Sent the eye bees article to my group chat and pic.twitter.com/SVaibfThho
— Allison Rand (@allisonrandom) April 10, 2019
*logs on to twitter*
twitter: BEES LIVED IN THIS LADY'S EYE!!!!
*logs off twitter* pic.twitter.com/rmfFhoHwYp
— i hate winter (@persephinae) April 9, 2019
As for the bees, they’ve survived being extracted from Ms He’s eyeball and have reportedly been sent to an organisation to be studied. This extraordinary case is said to be the first of its kind in Taiwanese medical history.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.