The animal kingdom is majestic, wondrous and, at times, straight-up weird. This story falls firmly into the latter category.
A woman in Taiwan has become the centre of an unusual medical story after she was found to have four bees living in her eyes.
The bees, doctors say, were feeding on her tears.
The minuscule insects, known as sweat bees, are 3 to 4 millimetres and were reportedly living in the woman’s left eyelid, the BBC reported.
In a press conference broadcast on local media last week, Dr Hong Chi-ting, an ophthalmologist at Fooyin University Hospital in Taiwan recalled the moment he found the intruders.
“I saw something that looked like insect legs, so I pulled them out under a microscope slowly, and one at a time without damaging things inside,” he said.
Sweat bees, also known as Halictidae, are attracted to sweat and they also drink tears for their protein content, according to a study by the Kansas Entomological Society.
The 28-year-old woman, only identified by her last name He, said she was taking part in an annual tradition of tomb-sweeping when a gust of wind blew something into her eye. When the discomfort didn’t subside, she went to the hospital.
“It was very painful. Tears wouldn’t stop coming out of my eye,” she said. “I was scared to death.”
Dr Hong said that Ms He was “lucky” she did not rub her eyes while the bees were inside.
“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 … she could have gone blind,” he told the BBC.
The bees can be found in grassy areas around the world but it is rare for them to end up in someone’s eyes. The hospital called it a “world first” procedure to remove them.