Four live bees discovered feeding on tears inside woman's eye

Four live bees discovered feeding on tears inside woman's eye

In what is being described as a "world first", a woman from Taiwan was found to have four bees living in her eye after she went to the doctor complaining of some swelling in the region.

The 29-year-old patient, named only as He, turned up at the hospital suspecting she had contracted an infection or experienced some irritation.

It had started, she said, when she was tending to a family member's grave. She'd been pulling out weeds from the site, and felt something go into her eye as she did so. He believed that it was only some soil, so she washed it out with water and tried to ignore the discomfort.

By that night, however, she noticed her eye had swollen up and she was experiencing a stinging sensation - and the ensuing discovery came as a shock to both her and her physician.

Dr. Hung Chi-ting, who treated He, described the discovery.

"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," he told the BBC. "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."

Dr. Hung found that the insects, known as Halictidae or "sweat bees", had been sustaining themselves with the tears in He's eye.

There is a chance that He could have lost her sight from the infestation, but she was saved by the fact that she had not rubbed her eye too aggressively, and also that she had presented at the hospital fairly soon after the bees took up residence on her face.

Sweat bees are not usually a threat to people, and earned their name thanks to their habit of drinking sweat off people and animals (which explains why they were drawn the moisture in He's eye).

They can be found worldwide, though most commonly in mountains or near gravesites. They are reportedly not usually aggressive, and will only sting if they feel agitated or threatened.