A hobby sweeter than honey

The Golden Hive located in downtown Flagstaff sells handmade candles along with other items. The business also offers candle-making classes for people, Oct. 8.

Though candle rolling may not be a go-to hobby for some, it is all the buzz for this family-owned local shop. The Golden Hive, located downtown on Route 66, carries all-natural bee products and offers a variety of candles made of beeswax. Its owner and employees encourage people to come in, stick around, comb through their selection of products and even take home a bit of all-natural honey for as cheap as a quarter.

The walls of The Golden Hive are painted yellow and decorated with informational posters about honeybees. The shop has a long table lined with candles of every shape and size, from those that look like pinecones and flowers to ones that look like sheep. Every product in The Golden Hive is all-natural and bought from local beekeepers. Nothing is bought online or imported.

Customers can also make their own candles if they desire. Owner Tracy Heirigs described the process as quick and easy. The sheets are made out of pure beeswax with natural coloration and pigments. The candles are pinched, rolled and something like a blow-dryer is used to mold them. Heirigs said making candles is even fun for kids, and kits can be bought to make candles at home.

“It’s super simple. It takes about two minutes,” Heirigs said. “I time myself — I can do like 60 an hour.”

The shop opens at 10 a.m., and customers can come at any time on Saturday morning to learn how to roll a candle. Heirigs, who previously only sold her products at farmers markets, was urged by her daughter to open her own shop. Now she owns The Golden Hive and Alpine Pizza, where they put honey in the pizza crust.

Although The Golden Hive focuses mainly on beeswax candles and honey, the walls are lined with tiny bottles and beauty products. They are still bee products, but not in the way one might expect.

“The bees make four things: they make honey, pollen, propolis and royal jelly, all of which are very medicinal and antimicrobial, which means bacteria, viruses and fungi can’t live in an environment where they are,” Heirigs said. “So we make medicine, and we make skincare [products], too.”

Golden Hive employee Janet Mendyk said she has been a honey fan for a long time. Mendyk said she loves the smell of the beeswax candles and the process of molding them. They are melted in rubber molds with different designs and taken out once cooled.

“I get to take things out of the molds, which to me is absolutely amazing,” Mendyk said. “It is an extremely intricate mold, and they pop right out. It’s a lot of fun to work with.”

Mendyk also said that it is interesting to see the diversity of tourists that come into the shop. She likes to hear about people’s travels, where they are coming from and how they discovered the little shop.

Senior Kadyn Wilson is an environmental science major. Although Wilson said she feels that local shops like this one are not addressing a larger issue, she still likes to see them in business.

“Ultimately, honeybees are a very tiny select population, and out of all the diversity of bees that need to be protected, [protecting honeybees] doesn’t necessarily address that,” Wilson said. “However, organic, locally sourced honey is a very important thing, at least to me.”

This shop is an option for students who seek to be more sustainable in their lives, because it is stocked with natural products that are locally sourced. Maybe while shopping, they can find a deal sweeter than honey.