Recently doctors treating a Taiwanese woman for a swollen eye were shocked to find that she had over four little bees living in her, under her eyelid and feeding off her tears. These tiny little bees are known as sweat bees and are only around 3 millimeters long, so are small enough to fit under an eyelid.
The doctor treating her, Hung Chi-ting, saw some tiny insect legs and after inspection with a microscope realized that the bees were damaging her eyes inside. Luckily for this patient, Hung Chi-ting is the head of ophthalmology at the Taiwan Fooyin University Hospital and was able to act quickly to save her eye.
These insects are known as sweat bees or Halictidae and generally, they will nest near graves or fallen trees which means you can easily come into contact when you are hiking in mountains or going to a cemetery. Which is exactly what happened to this patient, she believes the insects got inside her eye when she was visiting a relative’s grave. The problem is that the insects will have been attracted to her tears as this would have been the ideal food for them.
She attempted to wash them out but kept experiencing severe pain so went to see the doctor at the hospital. The sweat bees had caused a bacterial skin infection and started to erode her corneal, it was extremely lucky that she had come to the hospital almost immediately. Any longer and Hung Chi-ting advised he may have had to take out her eyeball completely just to save her life. And due to the quick action, her eyesight has been left intact, though her vision has gone down a little in the affected eye.
Generally speaking, there is not much to worry about, sweat bees will feed off nectar and pollen. But they are also known to like human perspiration, which for them contains moisture and salts that they find precious – and on this occasion what caused the problem.