Bees Found Living in Woman's Eyelid, Surviving off Tears

A Taiwanese woman is recovering after doctors discovered four bees living in her eye and "feasting on her tears."

According to The Guardian, a 29-year-old woman in Taiwan, identified only as He, had gone to the doctor earlier this week after experiencing an irritated and swollen eye, which she thought was the result of a simple infection. But He and her doctors were left shocked after they found four bees living under her eyelids and "feasting on her tears," which doctors at Fooyin University Hospital in Taiwan described as a "world first."

"I saw something that looked like insect legs, so I pulled them out under a microscope slowly, and one at a time without damaging their bodies," the hospital's head of ophthalmology Dr. Hung Chi-ting said during a press conference. "I discovered that surprisingly there were four bees."

Sweat bees, also known as Halictidae, are small bees that that measure 3 to 4 millimeters (0.12-0.16 inches) in length, according to CTS. While the bees feed off nectar and pollen, they are also attracted to human perspiration, which provides "precious moisture and salts," and commonly nest in the mountains and near graves.

Although it is not known for sure how the bees got into He's eye, she believes it may have happened when she was pulling weeds at a relative's grave site with her family. According to He, she felt something go into her eye, and presuming it was soil, had washed it out with water. By night, however, it had begun to swell and she felt a sharp stinging pain under her eyelid, which eventually caused her to seek medical help.

"Thankfully she came to the hospital early, otherwise I might have had to take her eyeball out to save her life," Dr. Hung said, noting that the woman's vision had been reduced to under 0.1, the equivalent of 20-200 vision on the Snellen eye chart measuring visual acuity. "Luckily, she didn't have a high fever and it hadn't affected her central nervous system."

Dr. Hung added that He was lucky that she did not rub her eyes, as it would have likely caused the bees to sting.

0comments

"She was wearing contact lenses so she didn't dare to rub her eyes in case she broke the lens," Dr. Hung said. "If she did she could have induced the bees to produce venom…she could have gone blind."

He is expected to make a full recovery. The bees, which were removed alive, are also reportedly doing fine.