DoubleDogFarm
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Worm Composting / Black Soldier Fly Composting

I'm starting another project, like I need another project, and would like some help.

Worm Farming and or Black Soldier Fly Farming.

First a need a positive ID on my little friends. In the first picture are my 4 plastic barrels I picked up today. Free. :D In the back ground is a white 5 gallon bucket hanging in my duck's night pen.
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I've been adding vegetable scraps and roasted chicken scraps into this bucket hoping to attract Black Soldier Flies. This what I found.
White grubs. I think these are young Soldier Fly larva?
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and these Orange-red eggs / cocoons.
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I've done a little research with nothing positive.

Any idea what the cocoons are?

Eric

DoubleDogFarm
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Oh crap! I think I have House or Stable flies. Bummer!!

Eric

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BluesJay
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I think you're right, those aren't Soldier fly larva. This is first I've heard that they are beneficial. I had a bunch of the larva in our compost bin before and have seen those black flies around...didn't make the connection :oops: I thought they were a pest, live and learn. Those are nice barrels.

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Well, Looks like the ducks will have a feast tomorrow.

That eliminated the next several questions.

I'll move on to cutting the barrels in half lengthwise. I was hoping to use our bandsaw sawmill. Lock them in place with the log dogs and rip them in half. Brother nixed that idea. Even if we tried it, it would have contaminated the sawdust with plastic. :(

I'll have to come up with a jig and cut them with my worm drive.

Eric

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applestar
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Sounds like an interesting project, Eric. You are brave, though having ducks as the cleanup crew must help!

There was a very long thread on BSF a couple of years back with all kinds of details and links. I remember reaching the conclusion that I probably wouldn't be trying BSF composting. ...even if I were not squeamish (big IF there :roll:) winter climate here would mean I could only keep them during the warmer months and would have to renew the stock every spring somehow.

Cutting the barrels -- as I was reading the part about the sawmill, I had a vision of those tough barrels warping and locking up in the teeth as soon as they were cut into. Good luck and let us know how the cutting goes -- what is a worm drive? I've always thought that the barrels cut lengthwise might make good planters if there was a way to support them, but I can't picture myself ever managing to cut them.

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rainbowgardener
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Those are plastic barrels, not metal?

I cut a couple plastic barrels like that in half crosswise (not lengthwise) to make towers for growing potatoes in. I just used my chain saw to cut them. Worked ok for me.

I agree those don't look dark enough to be BSF larvae. I have a worm bin in my basement again this winter. It seems to spontaneously generate BSF larvae. I think they come in with the fall leaves I use for bedding (or something, I don't really know). I keep pulling them out, because I don't want the BSF's hatching out inside. At one point, I found a little nest, with maybe 1/4 cup of them all together. Pulled them all out and put them on a tray for the birds outside.
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soil
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I raise bsf every year. I advise you don't mix them with worms. Or your worm bin will turn into a bsf bin. Bsf poo attracts lots of egg laying bsf adults.

I would just cut them in half from the side not down the length. Round bins are more efficient at self harvest.

The best attractant for bsf I've ever found for starting a new colony is spent brewers mash. Fill a five gallon bucket half way with fresh spent brewers mash. It must be moist from the brewing process. Cover lightly and let rot. Put aside because it will smell at first. After a few weeks you should have lots of young bsf larva to go in your bin.

Another thing to note is to make the lid strong, mice and rats love bsf larva. And will destroy a colony.

In the end they are amazing waste reducers and waste converters. Poultry and fish will thrive on a diet of bsf and fresh greens.
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DoubleDogFarm
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Worm drive circular saw. Most people call them Skillsaws and that is the brand I own. Mag 77. Some say to put the blade on backwards for cutting plastic.

Eric

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soil wrote:I raise bsf every year. I advise you don't mix them with worms. Or your worm bin will turn into a bsf bin. Bsf poo attracts lots of egg laying bsf adults.

I would just cut them in half from the side not down the length. Round bins are more efficient at self harvest.
I'm really more interested in worm farming and was thinking BSF was just a bonus. Good to know not to mix.

Soil, I could use a little more information on the half round barrel concept. Are you stacking them? In this video they are cut lengthwise and stacked on a tree system. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZG4e3uik9uw Not sure how he harvest the castings. Maybe he has a shaker or trommel.

I'd also like to harvest the worm Leachate like in this video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SuBT7Su ... sults_main I think she's funny and I quote " his name is Peter Paul and He's married". Peter, Paul and Mary. :>

Eric

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applestar wrote:Sounds like an interesting project, Eric. You are brave, though having ducks as the cleanup crew must help!

There was a very long thread on BSF a couple of years back with all kinds of details and links. I remember reaching the conclusion that I probably wouldn't be trying BSF composting. ...even if I were not squeamish (big IF there :roll:) winter climate here would mean I could only keep them during the warmer months and would have to renew the stock every spring somehow.
Could this be that thread? It was pretty amazing....

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ReptileAddiction
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If you want to buy black soldier fly larvae I will post a link down below. They are a very common reptile food in the reptile industry.

https://www.phoenixworm.com/servlet/StoreFront

https://www.calciworms.com/

In the reptile industry they go buy different names but they all specify black soldier fly larvae.

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Cut the first barrel with my Skillsaw. Worked really well. No melting, binding. 4 Cuts done.

First cut perpendicular to the top seam
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Flip it over and do it again
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Lay the barrel over and using a straight edge, draw a line from the top kerf to the bottom kerf
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Two lengthwise half barrels.
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Eric

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soil
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What i meant was cutting it in half so you have two short barrels. Too late now.

Also I don't harvest the castings, there not raised for that. 100 lbs of waste will be less than 5 lbs of vsf castings or as I call
It bsf goo. But youll get like 50 lbs of bsf.
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rainbowgardener
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Keep going! :) So what does one DO with 50 pounds of black soldier flies!?
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RBG, Protein shake! Ok protein for ducks and chickens
soil wrote:What i meant was cutting it in half so you have two short barrels. Too late now.

Also I don't harvest the castings, there not raised for that. 100 lbs of waste will be less than 5 lbs of vsf castings or as I call
It bsf goo. But youll get like 50 lbs of bsf.
Too lat now. :lol: I have three more barrels. :wink:

Earlier you said self harvesting. What type of ramp do you use. Here is one of my attempts at a self harvester.
Image

Eric

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soil
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The best ramp I have used are those that mimics the round "biopod". Where both ramps start low on one end. And go opposite directions to meet at a hole that drops into a bucket. It increased my harvest for sure. And them going into a collection bucket was key. Lots of other critters like to eat bsf. That and instead of the dominant chickens getting the bsf when they self harvested into the paddocks all would get some when I dump a buckets worth.

50 lbs of bsf becomes livestock food.

One warning is these little guys eat, a lot, very fast. I take neighbors non compostable scraps and return them with eggs. A large bin can eat lbs and lbs of scraps in 24 hours no problem.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

DoubleDogFarm
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Sounds good Soil.

Did a little more work on the worm composting setup.

I cut a second barrel in half and drilled a drain hole in one end. I'll cover this hole with 1/4" hardware cloth, lay it in over the hole before adding the bedding.
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Under the old rabbit hutch roof, I added a row of cement blocks and backfilled with horse manure / bedding. I'm thinking this will help insulate and keep the worms a little warmer. I may even put some bedding between and around back of the troughs. With the drain holes in front of the blocks and the troughs pitched to the front, I should be able to collect leachate. Looks like I may have to extend the roof and or build a plywood cover.
Image

Eric

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rainbowgardener
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Beautiful! Once filled, that will be a LOT of worms! What will you feed them? That many worms will be hungry!
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BorealWormer
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Hi I became interested in BSFL a couple of years ago and I now help out over at the BlackSoldierFlyBlog forums. Thought I'd chime in here on DIY BSFL bins. With a barrel the easiest thing to do is tip it at about 37° and that way there is no need to build ramps. 'Winston’s Bughopper' is one example but the base needn't be this complicated:

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If you want to use plywood then the best design I've seen is the 'Bug Barracks' at the following link:
https://s283.photobucket.com/albums/kk30 ... ?start=all

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The Black Soldier Fly Blog has set up a BSF Locator map (link) displaying the locations of confirmed BSF sightings/wild populations. If you'd like to contribute there's a 'Report BSF sighting' link in the upper left corner of the map or you can use this (link). Only locations which are submitted with adequate documentation will be used.
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I Believe The Black Soldier Fly Has The Potential To Be A Beneficial Insect Second Only To Pollinating Bees

DoubleDogFarm
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rainbowgardener wrote:Beautiful! Once filled, that will be a LOT of worms! What will you feed them? That many worms will be hungry!
Thank you. :D

Here's a short list I found. Please add to if needed

Do Feed Worms:

Vegetable scraps
Fruit scraps and peels (mold/rot is fine)
Bread and grains
Teabags
Non-greasy leftovers
Coffee grounds (and filters)
Crushed egg shells
Napkins, paper towels

Don’t Feed

Don't overfeed citrus—should be no more than 1/5 of worm food
Onions
Meats, fish
Greasy foods
Dairy products
Twigs and branches
Dog/cat feces, cat litter

My father lives in a assisted living. The kitchen staff are willing to set the compostables aside. I have to be willing to remove buckets on a regular basis.

Eric

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Borealwormer,

Thank you for the information and links. I'll check it out thoroughly later.

Hope you don't mind that I posted this picture.
Image

Now that's cool!!

Eric

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BorealWormer
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DoubleDogFarm wrote:Hope you don't mind that I posted this picture.
Image
Credit for that actually goes to a great guy from Florida who posts as "Tarvus" (link). He used to have a website about raising BSFL (https://www.raisesoldierflies.com/) but it was hacked last year and is still down. He has several vermicomposting, BSFL and aquaculture related videos on his YouTube channel (link).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6lLnzqt8wk
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Welcome to the Forum, BW. Can you explain your signature line "I believe the BSF has the potential to be a beneficial insect second only to honeybees." In what ways? I am interested.

This is my second winter for having an indoor worm bin. In both cases BSF larvae have "magically" appeared in the worm bins.
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BorealWormer
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Thanks for the welcome rainbowgardener :)

As for my sig line, imagine if BSFL composting was developed on a large industrial scale. The amount of refuse diverted from landfills and the amount of feed material produced for poultry, aquaculture, etc. would be tremendous. The economic impact of pollinating bees on food production at present is huge. I don't think BSFL composting will match it but it could be significant. :)
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rainbowgardener wrote:This is my second winter for having an indoor worm bin. In both cases BSF larvae have "magically" appeared in the worm bins.
I accidentally introduced them to my indoor bin last year so had to deal with the adults appearing at sunny windows and the prepupal larvae migrating out of my bin. How about you?
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Nope, have thankfully not seen the adult flies (which I think are kind of creepy) or the larvae anywhere but in the bin. But I regularly comb through the bin and pull out all the BSF larvae I can find, throw them outside for birds to find.
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rainbowgardener wrote:... the adult flies (which I think are kind of creepy)...
I think they look kinda neat with their white legs but each to his own tastes I guess :wink:

Image
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That's a cool close up/macro shot of the fly, but... If this was one of those TV crime shows, we could run a finger print match :lol:

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Just a quick updated photo.
Image

I filled the troughs with horse manure bedding. Dumped my worm compost garbage can and quartered. Each of the troughs received a quarter of the worms and bedding.

I may have to string a 2 x 4 across, between the two post, to keep the troughs level.

Will see what happens.
Eric

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Looking good. Will you be trying the fresh "spent brewers mash" soil mentioned to attract BSFs? I believe you'll have some at some point.

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applestar wrote:Looking good. Will you be trying the fresh "spent brewers mash" soil mentioned to attract BSFs? I believe you'll have some at some point.
Not in the four worm troughs, but may start a BSF colony bug barracks. :)

Eric

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I never have to worry about "attracting" BSF's! They are always present in my compost pile AND my indoor worm bin. You might have to attract them if you really wanted big numbers of them, like wanted them to be the main digester of your "stuff."
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Melon attracts BSFs quicker than anything. It must be the sugar that attracts them.

One time I did an experement. I cut the melon into lots of 2" pieces and sprinkled them over the top of my compost plus 1 cup of white sugar that I converted to Fructose sugar by boiling it is water with 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Compost was 45" diameter 38" deep. 2 days later compost was 45" diameter 14" deep. My compost was in the shade under a tree. It was amazing, sorta like having 6 months of composting done in 2 days. Only problem the compost was wet and looked like black mud, it did not rain on it and I did not add water. I took me 2 weeks to till that blob of mud into the garden soil.

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Gary350 wrote:... Only problem the compost was wet and looked like black mud, it did not rain on it and I did not add water. I took me 2 weeks to till that blob of mud into the garden soil.
BSFL do shred things quickly releasing all the contained water in a rush. Drainage can be a problem and purpose built BSFL bins often have filter/drainage systems.
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