Doctor found 4 sweat bees stuck in Taiwanese woman’s left eye feeding on her tears

Savouring her tears. Literally.

Zhangxin Zheng | April 11, 01:32 am


Four bees were extracted alive from a Taiwanese lady’s left eye recently.

This rather bizarre case was probably the first in the world.

Here’s what happened.

What happened

The 29-year-old Taiwanese lady, He, was helping to tidy up a relative’s grave over Chinese Qing Ming festival, also known as tomb sweeping day.

She felt something enter her eyes following a gust of wind and after she had squat down to pull out the weeds.

She thought it was just dirt or sand, so she rinsed her eyes with water in an attempt to flush the particles out.

However, she felt an acute stinging pain in her left eye at night and she was tearing up.

This prompted her to see a doctor.

Discovered four sweat bees

The head of ophthalmology from Fooyin University Hospital, Hung Chi-ting, subsequently extracted four bees that were still alive from He’s left eye.

Hung recounted that he saw something that appeared to be insect legs in the eye socket initially.

He then inspected He’s eye under a microscope and extracted four bees out, one by one, cautiously from the socket.

Hung also told BBC that the bees might have been blown into He’s eye by the wind and were subsequently stuck inside.

The bees were identified to be tiny sweat bees.

Hung also said that it was fortunate that He did not rub her eye, as that might have led to inflammation of the cornea or even blindness.

Sweat bees

Sweat bees typically do not attack people, but they are drawn to human perspiration where they obtain water and salts.

Sweat bees are also soil-nesting bees, so they are likely to build their hives near the graves that He visited, in the burrows or softwoods.

Sweat bees are one of the common bees found in green areas, such as the community gardens in Singapore.

Past surveys by National Parks Board have shown that there are over 15 species of bees that visit the community gardens for food and sweat bees are one of them.

Other bees are carpenter bees, pearly-banded bees, stingless bees and honey bees.

Misconception about bees

Bees are important pollinators as almost one-third of the food we consume are pollinated by them.

However, their populations are on a decline globally.

The misconceptions surrounding bees do not help with their plight, as they put bees in a less favourable light.

Firstly, bees can be colourful, as not all bees are black and yellow in colour.

Here’s an example:

Secondly, in contrast to a story like this, the majority of bees in Singapore are loners that do not live in colonies.

Swarm of bees appeared in Punggol resident’s bathroom shower head

Lastly, most bees are not aggressive.

About 99 percent of the bee species in the world are harmless and prefer to stay away from people.

Read more about bees in Singapore here.

Top photo collage from screenshots of Apple news YouTube

About Zhangxin Zheng

Zhangxin’s favourite pastime is singing Mulan’s soundtrack in the mangrove forests. She hopes to perfect the art of napping in a hammock in the mangroves without being drowned by rising sea levels.

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