We’ve all felt under the weather or had a really uncomfortable skin condition—a pimple, a boil, maybe even a pesky stye along our eyelid—at some point during our lives. Usually these problems go away with time, but when they don’t we visit a clinic or general practitioner.
For one young Taiwanese woman with a swollen eye, her problem was far worse than your typical ailment. Rather than a simple infection, it turned out that her eyelid had become home to four small bees that were dining on her sweet, succulent tears.
The incident has been described by doctors at Fooyin University Hospital as a “world first” after they managed to extract the four live sweat bees from the eye of the 29-year-old woman named He, according to The Guardian.
He, who has only been referred to by her surname, was cleaning a family member’s grave and uprooting weeds when she felt a bit of dirt get into her eye, according to KRON 4. Making the reasonable assumption that this was only a bit of soil and nothing more, she flushed her eyes out with water.
By nighttime, however, He began experiencing a sharp stinging pain in her now-teary eye, which had become a source of sustenance for her unwelcome new guests.
Hung told CTS News:
“It was very painful. Tears wouldn’t stop coming out of my eye … I was scared to death.”
After an agonizing three hours, He headed to the hospital where doctors found that she was suffering from the bacterial skin infection cellulitis along with severe corneal erosion caused by the bees.
The hospital’s head of ophthalmology Dr. Hung Chi-ting told reporters:
“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.”
Because He refrained from rubbing her swollen eye, the bees, as well as her eyesight, were ultimately saved.
“Thankfully she came to the hospital early, otherwise I might have had to take her eyeball out to save her life,” Hung said.
Hung added that He’s eyesight had been reduced to under 0.1, or 20-200 vision according to the Snellen eye chart that measures visual acuity. If she had succumbed to a fever as a result of the bees’ presence in her eyelids, her central nervous system would have potentially fallen victim to the sweat bees, he added.
The tiny bees, known as Halictidae or “sweat bees,” are naturally attracted to not only the typical bee diet of pollen and nectar, but also the moisture and salts found in human perspiration, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. The bees are largely harmless and only sting when they are threatened or touched.
He is now expected to make a complete physical recovery from the traumatic events.
Yet we can’t imagine that she will ever forget her horrific day as host to the mischievous bees who decided that it would be a good idea to shack up alongside her eyeball and turn her tear ducts into their own personal banquet.