Tracy Heirigs is the queen bee of two sweet businesses. She runs the Golden Hive next to Peace Surplus on Route 66, which offers skin care products, fresh honey and an incredible variety of beeswax candles of all shapes and sizes.
Heirigs also owns Queen Bee Financial, which specializes in taxes, bookkeeping and financial consulting, and operates out of the same store front.
She runs the two businesses with the help of her daughter Jasmine.
While the two businesses may seem at different ends of the spectrum, it was while Heirigs was working as an actuary that she learned how to roll beeswax candles.
“I used to do it as a stress relief method,” she said.
She discovered beeswax foundation sheets while shopping at a farmers market in Hermosa Beach, Calif. The fragrance of the wax, which smells like honey, and the soothing movement of heating and then rolling the wax sheets around a wick made for a perfect meditation practice after a long day working with numbers.
After a car accident in 2000 left her with short-term memory problems, her hobby became a second source of income.
An actuary uses math and statistics to determine what kind of risks an insurance or financial company can reasonably expect. The industry then uses the information to determine what to charge for premiums.
For example, a health insurance actuary would look at the rates of disability, death and illness and the availability of health care in an area to help a health insurance company determine what to charge a person based on their age and hometown.
As an actuary you have to rely on your memory to help make those complex calculations, she said.
The combination of raising a child on her own, the stressful life of an actuary and her memory problems gave Heirigs the nudge she was looking for to move into opening her own businesses.
She started by offering help with finances and taxes out of her home and continued the practice when she moved to Flagstaff about 18 years ago.
She opened The Golden Hive as a home business about three and a half years ago. At first she sold candles over the internet and at the Flagstaff and Sedona Farmers Markets. About a year ago, the store front on Route 66 became available and she moved in.
“We carry 22 different types of honey and all of the wax and honey we use comes from Arizona,” she said. She has more than 200 silicone and metal molds that she uses to make her hand-poured candles.
Beeswax candles are a much better product than the typical paraffin candles you might find in your local big box store, Heirigs said.
“They burn 40 percent longer and 40 percent brighter,” she said. A three to four inch beeswax candle can burn for 60 hours. They don’t drip or smoke like some other candles.
Beeswax also burns cleaner than paraffin, she said. Paraffin candles are usually made from petroleum oil which can cause trouble for people with asthma or other breathing problem.
Heirigs' love for candles rapidly expanded to offering 22 different types of honey, royal jelly, pollen, propolis and a line of skincare products.
There are so many uses for the various products made by bees that people don’t know about, she said. For example, many people don’t know the benefits of propolis. Propolis is a brown or reddish resin that bees collect from tree sap. They use it to seal the edges of their hives and it acts as a natural antibiotic that protects the bees and their hive from various illness. It makes a great would healer, she said.
“It’s a natural antibiotic,” Heirigs said.
She sells the resin by itself, in capsules and mixed into some of her skin care products.
Royal jelly is used by bees to feed the bee larvae in the hive. The substance is incredibly rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, aminio acids and sugars, she said. Queen bees are usually fed more of the jelly than worker or drone bee larvae.
Some people use royal jelly for allergies, skin problems and as a hair tonic.
During the tax season, Heirigs still displays her candles, honey and skincare products but also increases her advertising for her Queen Bee Financial business, where she does individual and corporate taxes, bookkeeping, and financial consulting.
“We like to say, ‘Stop in for your waxes and taxes,’” she said.