A woman in Taiwan was suffering from eye pain and reduced vision due to an unlikely and horrifying issue: four tiny bees found hiding behind her eyelid and consuming her tears.

Taiwanese news agency CTS says the woman sought medical assistance for a swollen left eye a few hours after she felt something enter her eye while she was tending to a relative’s grave.

A doctor noticed something in the eye and then pulled out the first of four “sweat bees” – each no more than four millimetres long.

In addition to affecting the woman’s vision, the bees were also causing a skin infection and eroding her corneas. Doctors say she could have also developed a fever and central nervous system damage, and may have needed to have the eye removed if she waited longer before seeking help.

The woman is expected to make a full recovery, according to a CNN report citing Taiwanese media.

Also known as Halictidae, sweat bees are so named because they typically consume human sweat. Pest control company Orkin says the salt and moisture of sweat helps them supplement their diets of pollen and nectar. Tears contain similar salt and moisture content to sweat.

Halictidae are both common and tiny, averaging about one centimetre in length. They do not produce honey, but are capable of stinging and swarming humans, and can be found in most parts of the world, including Canada.