She Thought It Was Dirt in Her Eyes. It Was Bees

Woman had been gardening when the bees flew in, got trapped
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2019 10:37 AM CDT

(Newser) – Warning, this story may turn you off of gardening forever. A Taiwanese woman was weeding around relatives' graves when a gust of wind blew what she thought was dirt into her eyes. Hours later, with her eyes still swollen and in pain, the 28-year-old went to a hospital, where doctors found something pretty horrifying: four bees, each about 0.15 inches long, under her left eyelid. Upon spotting what appeared to be an insect leg while examining the woman's eye, "I grabbed the leg and very slowly took one out, then I saw another one, and another, and another," an ophthalmology professor at the hospital tells the BBC. "They were still intact and all alive." The bees were sweat bees or halictidae, small insects that, in addition to nectar and pollen, also feed off human sweat and tears.

The incident took place during the Qingming Festival, or Tomb Sweeping Day, which was last week, per the Washington Post. "She was wearing contact lenses so she didn't dare to rub her eyes in case she broke the lens. If she did she could have induced the bees to produce venom," the professor says. "She could have gone blind." Instead, the woman is expected to make a full recovery. As for the bees, they are still alive and were sent out for research. A study in the Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society documents 262 cases of the bees drinking human tears in Thailand, but an associate professor of entomology at National Taiwan University says this may be the first case of a sweat bee actually getting caught in a person's anatomy. (A swarm of bees followed this woman for two days.)

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