it is chapter one somewhere
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In the novel, beehives serves as a symbolic parallel to the community August has created in the pink house. Bees live, work, and produce honey in beehives. As in August’s community, female bees dominate the beehive, and the queen bee rules over everything. The queen bee is the mother of every single other bee, just as, according to August, the Virgin Mary is the mother of all the women she is close to, whom she calls the Daughters of Mary. Because the beehive is a very sensitive organism, the bees have developed many mechanisms to protect their home. Likewise, August and her community have certain rituals—including prayer, celebration, and mourning—that help keep the members healthy. These rituals become especially important when something bad happens in the community, as when May kills herself. The beehive has a symbolic function in the novel because as Lily learns about August’s community, and is welcomed into it, she also learns about the mechanics of the beehive and becomes familiar with it. By the end of the novel, Lily has become an accomplished beekeeper.
An excellent look at rituals can be found at the site below; you need to scroll down to page 4;