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Woman’s Eye Infection Turns out to Be Live Bees Drinking Her Tears

A Taiwanese woman didn't realise that the reason her eye was stinging was because four 'sweat bees' were living beneath her eyelid.
11 April 2019, 12:25am
Bee and a woman's eye
Image via Wikimedia, CC licence 3.0 (L) and Wikimedia, CC licence 3.0 (R)

This article originally appeared on VICE Asia

Alright, let’s just cut to the chase here: a woman in Taiwan had bees in her eyes. She thought it was an eye infection, but it wasn’t. It was bees. “Sweat bees,” more precisely, which is a particular type of bee attracted to the salty sweat of humans. And they were living, thriving, under the swollen flesh of her eyelids—literally drinking her tears.

This hellish story comes from Taiwanese news broadcaster CTS, who explained that the 29-year-old woman—identified by her surname He—was visiting and tidying a relative’s grave recently, pulling out weeds, when she felt what she assumed to be dirt fly into her eye. She cleaned the eye with water, kept calm, and carried on. But after noticing a persistent pain, coupled with the fact that she couldn’t stop tearing up, she decided to take herself to Taiwan’s Fooyin University Hospital.

The woman was initially diagnosed with cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection, and keratitis, or inflammation of the cornea. But Dr Hung Chi-ting, head of ophthalmology at the hospital, described the moment he discovered He’s eye was in fact full of bees.

“I saw something that looked like insect legs,” he told reporters, “so I pulled them out under a microscope slowly, one at a time without damaging their bodies.” Hung later identified the four specimens as sweat bees, which he insisted don’t usually attack people. Apparently these typically innocuous little creatures just can’t get enough of people’s perspiration, according to Business Insider Singapore, and often nest around fallen trees.

It was lucky that He didn’t rub the area of irritation, Hung added, as this could have crushed the bees into her eyes and caused more serious issues. He also took the opportunity to remind anyone practicing Qingming—or Tomb Sweeping Day—to wear goggles while cleaning graves if they want to avoid the same fate.

Young He has been discharged and is expected to make a full recovery.

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This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.