Most of the time, bees are great, what with the whole pollinating our food crops and sustaining the world’s ecosystems thing that they like to do. Every now and then, though, they fly into your eyes – so I guess you have to take the rough with the smooth.
Yet one Taiwanese lady, known only as Ms He, got a little more than her fair share of rough when doctors had to pull four live sweat bees – or Halictidae – from her eye.
According to the BBC, the 28-year-old woman was tidying up the graves of her deceased relatives as part of the Qing Ming tomb-sweeping festival, when a gust of wind blew what she thought was dirt into her left eye.
However, when her eye swelled up she realized something was wrong and sought medical assistance at a local hospital. Ophthalmology professor Dr Hong, who attended to the woman, told the BBC that he “saw something black that looked like an insect leg” when examining the eye under a microscope.
Taiwanese TV showed the bees being extracted from the woman's eye
The leg turned out to belong to one of the 4-millimeter-long bees, which, along with its three companions, was still alive. “I grabbed the leg and very slowly took one out, then I saw another one, and another and another,” explained Dr Hong.
Sweat bees are among the smallest bees in the world, and draw their name from their propensity to drink sweat. Because they rarely visit flowers, they have to find a source of protein other than pollen, and therefore often land on people’s eyelashes in order to drink their tears.
According to one study, the diminutive bees have such a subtle touch that most people aren’t even aware of their presence, although they occasionally congregate in groups of up to seven bees per eye, in which case they can become quite a nuisance.
Ms He was particularly unlucky to have the bees actually enter her eye, although fortunately, she did not rub her eye, which could have caused the bees to sting. As a result, both she and the insects came through the ordeal unscathed, meaning the bees could get back to saving the world and she could get back to sweeping graves and stuff.