Each of the epigraphs offers a comment about "the secret life of bees" that also serves as a focusing lens for the chapter it precedes. By reflecting on the human implication of the epigraph concerning bees, the reader can find a deeper significance in the plot unfolding.
The first epigraph addresses "queenlessness," and Lily is clearly in need of a communal "hive" so that she can grow into her potential. As she learns from the Boatwright sisters how to care for bees, she also learns how to care for herself and others. Chapter 2 discusses "scout bees," and Lily and Rosaleen go in search of Tiburon and the Black Mary. When Lily and Zach begin to fall in love and Lily awakens to her maturing sexual self, the chapter is preceded by an epitaph about the sexual behavior of bees.
In chapter 6, we read,
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.
This connects to the chapter, which concerns a Daughters of Mary service in which participants feel a great release and empowerment when they touch the statue.
We can judge Lily's growth by the last epigraph. Lily has not finished her progress, and she is still trying to reconcile herself to the memory of her mother, but she seems ready to advance into adulthood secure in wisdom she has gained with the Boatwrights. Like the first one, this epigraph discusses a hive whose queen has died. The difference here is that, instead of ending on "queenlessness," this last epigraph suggest hope for a dynamic future when the new queen arrives. One senses that Lily is ready to accept the mantle of being her own queen bee.