Doctors at a Taiwan hospital say a 29-year-old Taiwanese woman complaining about her eye being swollen shut and was unable to stop tearing up had a good reason why she was in 'unbearable pain.' In fact she had four good reasons. Doctors discovered four tiny bees living under her left eyelid.
According to a report from CTV, doctors say the patient (identified by her last name He) was admitted to Fooyin University Hospital where doctors initially believed the woman had a bacterial infection in her eye. But, after doctors took a closer look at He's eye through a microscope, Hung Chi-ting, the hospital's head of ophthalmology, discovered tiny insect legs wiggling out from one of her eye sockets.
The doctor said he used tweezers to yank out a small bee, knock as a Halictidae, or "sweat bee." But, he wasn't done, the doctor extracted three more of the 'sweat bees' from under He's eyelid.
At a press conference last week, Hung said the bees had been craving salt and were feeding off of He's tears after making a new home under her eyelid.
"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.
The bees may have ended up under He's eyelid after she took part in the Qingming Festival, which is also known as "Tomb Sweeping Day." He told reporters that she had been tidying up a relative's grave site with her family when she felt something get in her eye. The 29-year-old woman said she thought it was only dirt that got in her eye, so she cleaned it out with water and did not rub them much for the rest of the day. It wasn't until later that night when her eyes began to swell up and she began experiencing a stinging pain that made her tear up.
Sweat Bees are known to nest near graves and in the mountains.
He was lucky, Hung told the BBC. If she had continued rubbing her eyes while the pain got worse, she could have potentially gone blind.
Associate professor of entomology at National Taiwan University, Matan Shelomi, told The Washington Post that it's the first incident where sweat bees infested a person's eyelid.
"To my knowledge, this is the first case of a bee or a wasp getting caught in a part of a person’s anatomy, as far as I know," he said. "I’m sure the sweat bees got by the eye and got squished between the eye and eyelid. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Sweat bees only sting when provoked, with their stings ranked as one of the least painful. The Schmidt Sting Pain Index describes a sting by sweat bees as similar to a "tiny spark singing a single hair on your arm." Sweat bees are known to feed off nectar and pollen, but they are also drawn to people's sweat because it contains moisture and sales they need.
He has been discharged and is expected to make a full recovery.