What does the quote in the beginning of chapter 3, of "The Secret Life of Bees" mean?
the quote is: "New beekeepers are told that the way to find the elusive queen is by first locating her circle of attendants."
When looking into a hive the majority of bees are females. In order to locate the queen one must do exactly what the quote states. When you find a large group of bees surrounding a larger female bee that is probably the female. These are her associates. There are few male bees, or drones, in the hive and they aren't very useful. They are simply there to fertilize the queen and then it dies. One fertilization is enough to supply the eggs for the queen's life time. This quote, as are most of the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, is from the book "Queen Must Die and Other Affairs of Bees and Man"
In relationship to the book the quote means that if you look at people from the point of view of who they associate with, you can quickly tell who is the "queen" of the hive. Many things in the lives of bees and people are secret, but we can discover a lot by who their associates are.