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 New bin not taking off... 
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Joined: Sat Jul 20, 2019 1:58 am
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Post New bin not taking off...
Hi! I'm pretty darn new to this. I spent a very long time reading about BSFL and finally decided to give a bin a try at home. I bought 250 larvae from a reptile feed store and put them in a 12” terra-cotta flower pot with a terra-cotta lid (maybe 2 or 3 gallons?). Since my main motivation for cultivating BSFL is to process kitchen scraps, I figured I would just feed them whatever I had, and they could eat it or not. That was, of course, a fair amount of meat. I began the bin about a month ago.

My problem is mostly that not very much waste is disappearing. Also, other maggots have moved in, and it smells BAD. Really bad. I’m stirring it, and it’s really really gross. Also, there are a ton of fruit flies. So presumably they’re just not eating very much. 

At first, I thought they were too cold, and now I think maybe they got too hot and died.

I live in Berkeley, where it’s usually about 55 degrees at night and 75 during the day. I was going to get a reptile heater for them, but then I read the bin produces its own heat, so I thought I’d just try that. At first, is wasn’t very warm, but after a few weeks, it’s now about 80 degrees inside when I look at it first thing in the morning and about 100 degrees inside when I look at it in the evening.

Maybe the temperature got above 120 one day and killed a lot of them? Maybe 250 just isn’t enough? Maybe my contraption for letting them crawl off is not letting them crawl off? (I have had none crawl off - they were white “medium-size” when I got them)

Anyway, thank you for any help of advice!


Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:39 am
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Post Re: New bin not taking off...
Chelsea welcome to our forum :) If you'd like you can introduce yourself here (link).

As you have guessed 250 is not enough BSFL to process any good amount of waste. There's way too much food for them and it's rotting which is producing the gross smell.

I have a small indoor bin which I estimate has several thousand larve and only feed it an average of 6 grams per day.

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Sun Jul 21, 2019 7:20 am
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Post Re: New bin not taking off...
Thanks! I have more questions if you don't mind my asking...

1.) What can you tell me about the temperature being higher than ambient? Right now my set up is relying on the bin producing some heat by itself, but I have no idea where it's coming from - I just heard on another site that BSFL bins warm themselves up. I'm a little worried that it's the bacteria making the heat, and once I get the BSFL population up, it will rot less and generate less heat. Do you happen to know where that heat is coming from?

2.) Do you think, with temperatures averaging around 65F degrees (18-ish C) and humidity 60 or 70%, that adults will be able to mate outside if I just let them escape? Or should I try to breed them inside? Do you have a guess at about how long you think it will take them to mature and crawl off?

3.) What do you think of my set up in general, do you think that processing meat and just whatever else (mostly coffee grounds and bread) I'm throwing out is fine, and whatever they don't eat, I'll give to the redworms? Do you think if I load up my 3-gallon bin with lots more larvae, it'll be about the right size to process food scraps for a family of 2?

Thank you so much for your help!


Sun Jul 21, 2019 12:13 pm
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Post Re: New bin not taking off...
ChelseaB wrote:
1.) What can you tell me about the temperature being higher than ambient? Right now my set up is relying on the bin producing some heat by itself, but I have no idea where it's coming from - I just heard on another site that BSFL bins warm themselves up. I'm a little worried that it's the bacteria making the heat, and once I get the BSFL population up, it will rot less and generate less heat. Do you happen to know where that heat is coming from?
Larger bins will produce heat but I suspect with only a few hundred larvae the heat you are seeing is from other causes.

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2.) Do you think, with temperatures averaging around 65F degrees (18-ish C) and humidity 60 or 70%, that adults will be able to mate outside if I just let them escape? Or should I try to breed them inside? Do you have a guess at about how long you think it will take them to mature and crawl off?
The temperatures are a bit on the low side but wild BSF have been seen all along the west coast up to Washington state and certainly in California. Tarvus summarizes the typical duration of the larval and pupal stages nicely "Three weeks as larvae after hatching and three weeks pupation before emergence!" (link). However the duration of both stages can be greatly affected by local conditions such as availability of food and the temperature.

Having them outside is much easier. Do you have a composter or compost pile? If is so this may help you: Attracting black soldier flies-the basics (link) topic.

Indoor breeding is harder and I don't know of anyone except commercial operations that are doing it on a large enough scale to process meaningful amounts of waste. Most indoor breeders are raising small quantities as reptile feed for their own pets.

Quote:
3.) What do you think of my set up in general, do you think that processing meat and just whatever else (mostly coffee grounds and bread) I'm throwing out is fine, and whatever they don't eat, I'll give to the redworms? Do you think if I load up my 3-gallon bin with lots more larvae, it'll be about the right size to process food scraps for a family of 2?
I would stay away from meat entirely until you have a large colony of larvae (tens of thousands). Are you interested in harvesting the larvae or just composting? If it's the latter then trying to get a population to establish in an outdoor composter would be the way to go.

Mixing BSFL and red worms can create problems. See Black Soldier Fly Larvae in Worm Bins (link)

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Sun Jul 21, 2019 7:01 pm
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Post Re: New bin not taking off...
Fantastic, thank you so much!


Mon Jul 22, 2019 1:06 am
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Post Re: New bin not taking off...
Hi Chelsea
Opinions are a dime a dozen, and for what its worth, here are some of mine:
1.) 250 BSF larvae is a minute sample to start with. You could easily keep them in a 2 liter ice cream tub. ½ Cup of food per day is more than enough.
2.) Bin heating is mainly because of body-friction, but you need 5-10 thousand BSFL before you see any noticeable rise in temps.
3.) Wild BSF will not breed unless your midday temps are at least 25 °C (77 °F). Indoor breeding is not that difficult, providing you have plenty of light, heat and humidity.
4.) As BW says, stay away from meat and fat. Soft, overripe fruit & veg plus general kitchen scraps work for me.
5.) It is possible to mix redworms with BSFL, but only in small numbers. In a thriving BSF bin, they will wipe out the redworms.
good luck :)


Mon Jul 22, 2019 10:34 am
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