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Course Hero. "The Secret Life of Bees Study Guide." August 11, 2017. Accessed December 14, 2018.


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The Secret Life of Bees | Chapter Summaries

See Chapter Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • 1954

    Lily Owens's mother, Deborah Fontanel Owens, dies from an accidental gunshot wound.

    Chapter 1
  • July 4, 1964

    After the Civil Rights Act passes, Rosaleen Daise is jailed on her way to register to vote.

    Chapter 1
  • Later that day

    Lily helps Rosaleen escape police custody. They hitchhike almost to Tiburon.

    Chapter 2
  • The next day

    Lily sees the black Mary on honey jar labels and is directed to beekeeper August Boatwright's house.

    Chapter 3
  • Later that day

    Lily and Rosaleen are welcomed to stay at the Boatwrights' honey house.

    Chapter 4
  • The following days

    Lily grows close to August and begins to learn beekeeping from her.

    Chapter 5
  • Sunday, July 12

    Lily becomes aware of her outsider status during worship. Unable to touch Mary's heart, she faints.

    Chapter 6
  • The following week

    Lily and Zachary Taylor become friends. Rosaleen moves into May Boatwright's room.

    Chapter 7
  • The last week of July

    Lily has a spiritual experience with the bees. After calling her father, she touches Mary's heart.

    Chapter 8
  • July 28

    May tells Lily that her mother stayed at the house.

    Chapter 9
  • End of July

    Zachary is unjustly jailed.

    Chapter 9
  • August 2

    After learning of Zachary's incarceration, May drowns herself in the river.

    Chapter 9
  • August 5–8

    A four-day vigil is held for May. At the end of it, she is buried.

    Chapter 10
  • Mid-August

    The sisters mourn May's death. Mary Day begins on August 15. Zachary gives Lily his dogtag necklace.

    Chapter 11
  • August 15

    Lily tells August the truth about why she's there, and August tells her the truth about her mother.

    Chapter 12
  • August 15–16

    Lily has a fit of anger in the honey house. A photo provides Lily with proof of her mother's love.

    Chapter 13
  • Later in August

    Rosaleen registers to vote. Lily forgives her mother.

    Chapter 14
  • Late August

    T. Ray tries to take Lily. The Boatwrights come to Lily's aid. T. Ray leaves without Lily.

    Chapter 14
  • That fall

    June marries Neil. Lily writes, connecting to the black Mary. Zach integrates the local high school.

    Chapter 14

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Chapter 1 Like all the chapters in The Secret Life of Bees, Chapter 1 is prefaced by a quotation from a nonfiction text about bees... Read More
Chapter 2 The chapter opens with a quotation describing how a bee colony "swarms," or leaves its old home and finds a suitable new... Read More
Chapter 3 The chapter opens with a quotation about beekeeping: the queen of the hive may be found "by first locating her circle of... Read More
Chapter 4 The chapter opens with a quotation describing the social structure of the honeybee colony. The queen lays the eggs, and ... Read More
Chapter 5 In the opening quotation, readers are asked to imagine entering a beehive, a place of literal darkness. The sister... Read More
Chapter 6 The opening quotation describes the "queen substance." This chemical, produced by the queen and passed to the workers th... Read More
Chapter 7 The cultural association of bees with sex is questioned in the opening quotation, which points out that "a hive suggests... Read More
Chapter 8 Social isolation means certain death for a bee, as this chapter's opening quotation reveals. August Boatwright tel... Read More
Chapter 9 The quotation emphasizes the importance of communication within the bee colony. On July 28 the exceptional heat co... Read More
Chapter 10 The shortness of worker bees' lives is reiterated by the opening quotation. After May has been at the wailing wall... Read More
Chapter 11 A single pound of honey, the opening quotation claims, is made from nectar gathered over "ten million foraging trips." ... Read More
Chapter 12 Although the queen is the mother of the hive, the opening quotation notes that she "spends her days confined in darkness... Read More
Chapter 13 The tiny worker bee can fly with loads much heavier than herself, the opening quotation asserts. After learning th... Read More
Chapter 14 Every colony needs a queen to survive, says the opening quotation. After August gives her the hatbox containing De... Read More
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