In Brief

Doctors find four live bees inside woman’s eye

Insects were feeding on tear ducts of unsuspecting host

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Doctors have extracting four live bees from the eye of a woman who complained of severe pain and swelling in her eyelid.

The 29-year-old woman, identified only by her surname He, assumed she had an infection when she visited Taiwan’s Fooyin University Hospital for an examination. 

In reality, four tiny insects belonging to the Halictidae family - commonly called “sweat bees” - were living under her eyelid, feeding from her tear ducts.

During a press conference, He said she first felt discomfort while at a cemetary tending to a family member’s grave. Assuming she had got dirt in her eye, she flushed it out with water.

But after developing a “sharp stinging pain under her eyelid” overnight, and significant swelling, she decided to seek medical attention, The Guardian reports.

The following morning, the hospital’s head of ophthalmology, Dr Hung Chi-ting, examined her eye through a microscope and spotted something wriggling in the tear duct.

“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,” Hung said.

All of the bees were successfully extracted alive in what doctors called a “world first”.

Doctors said He’s eyesight - and the lives of the bees - were saved because she refrained from rubbing her eye.

She is expected to make a full recovery, although Hung suggested she wear goggles during her next cemetary visit, People says.

The doctor told reporters that sweat bees, which are found worldwide, commonly nest in the mountains and near graves. And while they rarely sting, the insects are attracted to human perspiration, explaining why they fed off the salt and moisture of He’s tears.

According to Terminix, the sweat bee’s sting is the least painful of all stinging insects, and bees in the family “do not generally pose a threat to people, perhaps with the exception of hot summer days when they may seek out sweat to supplement their diets”.

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