Bees That Drink Human Tears

thaibee.jpg

This is, I kid you not, the actual title of a paper published in the January 2009 issue of the Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society. I love it, because it sounds like it could just as easily be the fan-encyclopedia description of some minor creature from a Lovecraft story. The bees in question are workers from three species, Lisotrigona cacciae, L. furva and Pariotrigona klossi, and were studied--going about their tear-drinking business--in Thailand. From the paper...

...workers drank lachrymation (tears) from human eyes in more than 262 naturally-occurred cases at 10 sites in N and S Thailand during all months of the year. A few visits were also seen to eyes of zebu and dog, indicating a probable broad mammalian host range. On man the bees were relatively gentle visitors, mostly landing on the lower eyelashes from where they imbibed tears for 0.5-2.5 min, often singly but occasionally in congregations of 5-7 specimens per eye.

The authors think the bees have adapted to drink tears as a way to get some protein in their diet and may, possibly, drink tears in lieu of feeding on pollen at all. That's pretty nifty, if a bit creep-tastic.

Image shows a Thai bee, though I'm not sure if it's actually one of the species studied in this paper. From Flickr user travlinman43, via CC.