The woman complained of severe eye pain and swollen eyelids before doctors found the sweat bees inside of her eyelid

By Joelle Goldstein
April 10, 2019 01:18 AM

If you thought multiple bees flying around you were bad, just imagine having them inside your eyelid.

That’s what a 29-year-old Taiwanese woman experienced last week after she began suffering from severe eye pain and found four bees under her eyelid feeding on her tear ducts, according to local outlet CTS News.

The finding was described by doctors as the “world’s first” and despite the terrifying encounter, the woman is expected to make a full recovery — due in part to the fact she did not excessively rub her eyes, which could’ve led to further inflammation of her cornea or blindness, The Straits Times reports.

The woman, who was only identified by her last name He, said during a press conference that she first started feeling discomfort while she was cleaning a relative’s grave and the insects unknowingly flew into her eye, according to Business Insider Singapore.

Sweat bee
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Because it felt like dirt or sand in her eye, the woman said she tried to flush it out with water but was unsuccessful. By that evening, the woman was experiencing sharp pains and watery eyes so she sought out medical advice, according to the outlet.

Doctors at Fooyin University Hospital in Taiwan then discovered that woman had four sweat bees under her swollen eyelids, feeding on her tear ducts. One by one, Professor Hung Chi-ting said he removed the insects, which were still alive, from her eye.

“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,” he said during the press conference, according to Business Insider Singapore.

Though sweat bees do not attack people, Dr. Hung said they are attracted to human perspiration and are often found near graves, which is where he suggested the woman contracted the unwanted visitors in her eye.

She is now on her way to making a full recovery and will likely be wearing goggles at the next visit to her relative’s grave, per Dr. Hung’s suggestion.

Sweat bees
Harish Tyagi/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

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Sweat bees are incredibly small, which makes them difficult for humans to notice as they fly around, according to Terminix.

Though they can appear in large numbers, they typically do not show any signs of aggression  — the sweat bees have the least painful sting of all stinging insects — and will only sting someone if they’re pressed against their skin.

Instead of attacking, the bees are merely interested in licking up human sweat with their short tongues as a way to supplement their diets, Terminix reports.

There are currently 1,000 species in the United States, Canada, and Central America, with 44 known species found in Florida.

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