Motif: Bees
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The bees way of life represents the journey Lily travels and the people she encounters.

Chapter 1: “The queen, for her part, is the unifying force of the community; if she is removed from the hive, the workers very quickly sense her absence. After a few hours, or even less, they show unmistakable signs of queenlessness.” (Man and Insects)
The queen is like Lily's mother. Because Lily's mom is no longer around her family and home is in turmoil. Lily feels that like the bees who cannot function without the queen, she cannot live a normal life without a mother.

Chapter 2: “On leaving the old nest, the swarm normally flies only a few meters and settles. Scout bees look for a suitable place to start the new colony. Eventually, one location wins favor and the whole swarm takes to the air” (Bees of the World)Bees represent hope for freedom and a new life. Lily and Rosaleen leave T. Ray and their past lives behind hoping for a better future. However, just as bees don't travel far, Lily stays close to her roots in Tiburon looking for a connection to her mother.

Chapter 3: “New beekeepers are told that the way to find the elusive queen is by first locating her circle of attendants.” (The Queen Must Die: And Other Affairs of Bees and Men)Must like the bees, Lily must find the people who knew or were associated with her mother's past. She finds her way using a jar of honey and is lead to August Boatwright and her sisters.

Chapter 4: “Honeybees are social insects and live in colonies. Each colony is a family unit, comprising a single, egg-laying female or queen and her many sterile daughters called workers. The workers cooperate in the food-gathering, nets-building and rearing the offspring. Males are reared only at the times of year when their presence is required.” (Bees of the World)
The three Boatwright sisters live alone but are willing to take Lily and Rosaleen in until they are able to complete their journeys. However, just like the bees, Zach is only around when his help is needed and Neil comes and goes when help is needed.

Chapter 5: “Let’s imagine for a moment that we are tiny enough to follow a bee into a hive. Usually the first thing we would have to get used to is the darkness…” (Exploring the World of Social Insects)
Lily explores the wonder of the Boatwright sisters. She quickly comprehends the way of life and everyone's personality. Lily slowly leaves the darkness into the new world. Living with and learning about the sisters changes her mind about life and the color of skin.

Chapter 6: “The queen must produce some substance that attracts the workers and that can be obtained from her only by direct contact. This substance evidently stimulates the normal working behavior in the hive. This chemical messenger has been called “queen substance.” Experiments have shown that the bees obtain it directly from the body of the queen.” (Man and Insects)
Lily learns the story of the statue, “Our Lady of Chains”, of Mary and realizes the importance of her. She is now drawn to Mary and wishes to touch her heart and be part of the daughters of Mary. Much like the bees obtain the “queen substance” from touching the queen, Lily thinks that by touching the heart of Mary it will provide her with something to help her on her journey.

Chapter 7: “How did bees ever become equated with sex? They do not live a riotous sex life themselves. A hive suggests cloister more than bordello.” (The Queen Must Die: And Other Affairs of Bees and Men)
Lily first meets Zach and falls in love. She thought that their color of skin would drag them apart but soon realizes that nothing can stop her heart and the increasing physical attraction between them.

Chapter 8: "Honeybees depend not only on physical contact with the colony, but also require its social companionship and support. Isolate a honeybee from her sisters and she will soon die." (The Queen Must Die: And Other Affairs of Bees and Men)
Lily learns more and more about the Boatwright sisters. She soon learns that they depend on each other and live off one another.

Chapter 9: "The whole fabric of honey bee society depends on communication- on an innate ability to send and receive messages, to encode adn decode information." (The Honey Bee)
Lily soon questions May about her mother. Lily learns that only a few words could mean the world to her. Also, she learns that a few words could just as easily hurt someone as help them.

Chapter 10: "A bee's life is but short. During spring and summer- the most strenuous periods of foraging- a worker bee, as a rule, does not live more than four or five weeks... Threatened by all kinds of dangers during their foraging flights, many workers die before they have reached even that age." (The Dancing Bees)
Like the bess, August and June experience the sadness of loss after May died. May died young but lived life to the fullest. She also fought till the end and ended her life leaving her strength and love behind with her family.

Chapter 11: "It takes honeybee workers ten million foraging trips to gather enough nectar to make one pound of honey." (Bees of the World)
The Boatwright sisters had to fill their hearts with happiness by reliving the past and the recent death of May. Also, Lily sheds millions of tears from events only desiring her heart to feel full.

Chapter 12: "If the queen were smarter, she would probably be hopelessly neurotic. As is, she is shy and skittsih, possible because she never leaves the hive, but spends her days confined in darkness, a kind of eternal night, perpetually in labor... Her true role is less that of a queen than mother of the hive, a title often accorded to her. And yet, this is something of a mockery because of her lack of maternal instincts or the ability to care for her young." (The Queen Must Die: And Other Affairs of Bees and Men)
Lily, like the queen beem is living in the darkness of her past. She lives with her actions as her shadow. August also plays a role as a queen; she is the mother character to Lily. After Lily's mother died, all she wanted was to be loved. Lily learns that August is the mother that she has always wanted.

Chapter 13: "A worker [bee] is just over a centimeter long and weighs only about sixty milligrams; nevertheless, she can fly with a load heavier than herself." (The Honey Bee)
Like the bees, Lily carries a heavy load of her past on her shoulders. Lily thrives with the facts of her past and doesn't let anything weigh her down.

Chapter 14: "A queenless colony is a pitiful and melancholy community; there may be a mournful wail or lament from within... Without intervention, the colony will die. But introduce a new queen and the most extravagant change takes place." (The Queen Must Die: And Other Affairs of Bees and Men)
After Lily's mother died, she had the desire to know the truth. Now that th etruth has come out, Lily doesn't want to forgive her dead mother. After Lily grieves, she allows Mary to become her new mother. Becoming Lily's queen, Mary gives Lily her strength back once again.

*All quotes are found in The Secret Life of Bees; however, they orignally come from the books immediately following the quote.