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Use this discussion thread for questions, problems, or confusion regarding your kit.
Just a heads up for UK buyers, expect to pay additional taxes for your kit; £16 Customs Duty and £51 Import VAT.
@yìchóng thanks for sharing that heads up. We don't currently have the resources to figure out exactly what all the various countries will charge at the border until we ship a kit there, but it would be great to compile this information to inform buyers as the initial rounds of kits are received.
Are you selling on eBay or Amazon yet?
@gringojay - not yet. We're working on a next iteration of the design that's a bit easier to produce (as well as lining up some local help with production) before we try to scale up our sales at all. It's ironic, but with just our small team producing these in house for now we can't afford to sell too many!
What is the weight of bran you initially put into one empty grow bag?
Also... how many worms in each bag? But, considering I won't eat the first ones I buy, I wonder if I can buy healthy beetles. If so, how many beetles would you recommend?
@gringojay - it has taken roughly a pound (+/-) of the wheatbran we purchase to fill one of the bags. it should be full enough that when hanging fully stretched out, the bran fills up to the white tape around the top of the bag. There doesn't need to be much headroom beyond what the access sleeve provides.
@kerri - these bags are designed to be seeded with ~9000 mealworms, which you should be easily able to produce from <200 beetles (we're recommending starting with ~200 to ensure some extra). you can check out our full usage walkthrough here https://github.com/TinyFarms/OpenBugFarm/wiki/Open-Bug-Farm-Mealworm-Kit-Use and please share any feedback about ambiguity or additional questions you have!
Has anyone tried using organza material (available at craft stores, often used for formal dresses) for the grow bags? It appears to fairly tough, have a finer opening than the noseeum mesh, and runs around 2.50 USD per yard. My primary concern with the finer mesh is that frass will not be able to pass through. I filled a sample with soil, to see what size particles woul fall through and found at least fine soil came through: Any ideas?
@MeganCurry - that may work to let through at least most of the frass, which is fairly fine. In the spirit of experimentation I'd totally encourage you to try it out with some worms and see how it works!
Question one: ? Are steamed carrot pieces, slices or whole cooked carrots better to use in the grow bag, or is it better to use uncooked carrots?
Question two: ? Is it better to use intact raw carrots or slice the raw carrot in the grow bag?
I have been cutting off the fresh uncooked carrot crown (when leaf comes out) & then slicing them along the long axis. Then I put 4 long pieces of carrot (derived from 2 fairly fat carrots) face down atop the bran in the grow bag. Those long pieces' skin with intact peel is thus facing upward to the humid air...When they shrivel excessively &/or show evidence of any kind of discoloration (mold or rot) I replace them in the grow bag. Those used carrots that are still substantial in size without mold/rot (or have large section still free of mold/rot) I slice away the face that had been buried into the bran; likewise I slice off the desiccated end(s). These newly resurfaced uncooked carrot slices are quite soft from age & so I then place them with their re-cut side face down onto the bran in the mating bin.
@gringojay - we always use sliced, fresh (washed and dried first) carrot. We typically slice into ~1/8" thick rounds or ovals if cutting on a bias for greater surface area. We usually add just a handful of these at a time (maybe 1/4 carrot's worth of slices), which lasts a few days while the worms are small, and is usually completely consumed in short order as the worms get larger. We usually check the carrots every few days for signs of mold or need of replacement.
We have never used cooked carrots, but I suspect they may go bad quicker, having fully knocked out the remaining life out of the carrot. On a side note, we've actually had raw carrot ends sprout and grow new roots when we tried to feed them to cockroaches housed in coconut coir.
Reaching into the tightly suspended grow bag for cut carrot rounds got bothersome to me & they seemed to loose a moist surface quicker than longitudinal slabs of carrot. The long spears are easier to remove for visual inspection & replace if still serviceable; when new the carrot spears are quite easy to lay inside the bag at an offset from the opening....The tapered end tips do curl soon & bind up some bran. The middle span & thick butt end of the slab seem very hospitable to young larvae making perforations into the carrot flesh, or just grouping(s) on the facet between carrot skin's sides.... When go to take out the carrot spear I hold it within the grow bag opening, turn the carrot so it's outer skin side faces up & the strike the carrot so most of the young larvae on the fleshy underside drop down onto the bran. Then when take the carrot slab out of the grow bag I inspect the fleshy side & any clinging bran. Out of the grow bag it is easier to repeatedly strike &/or pick at the carrot slab to remove any remaining larvae for dropping back into the grow bag....I just don't know if this is the most economical carrot tactic in regards to cost expenditure. The question of whether cooked carrot is better arose from seeing DonBugito proprietress' video of what looked like, from the color & shape, cooked carrots in her mealworm bins.
I got distracted for a week or so and didn't put any carrot in at all. Don't know if I killed some or not, but I do have some pupae so they didn't do too badly. This is just the meal worms, The beetles got theirs and are thriving. How important is it to give carrots? I get tired of picking out all the old shriveled ones and I can't imagine that large scale breeders do too much fussing. Thoughts?
@kerri the worms will be fine without carrot for a while, but it will slow down their growth rate a bit, and increases the chances that they will cannibalize any pupae that emerge before you harvest.
Large scale farms always supply carrot/potato/other, but since they are not generally concerned with selling them as food, they tend to leave them in there and we've seen cases that are pretty nasty. If the old shriveled ones are completely dry then you don't really need to worry too much about extracting them since nothing bad will grow on them. It's really only moldy moist produce that you need to keep an eye out for and remove.
Carrot in mealworm grow bags with good ventilation looks pretty amazing to me. I fished out the carrot slabs from a grow bag that has larvae that came from eggs taken away from a 200 bettle mating bin on 23 June 2014. Assuming some of the larvae in this grow bag came from eggs that started hatching on 23 June I am seeing some 1 month old larvae's interaction with the carrots.
Today the carrot in the grow bag, with larvae close to 1 month of age, was eaten through & through quite extensively. It was mostly fragmented carrot skin & it didn't show any signs that, despite being buried for days in bran, it could contaminate the mealworm bedding.
In contrast, my plastic container mealworm bin with larvae that are even 10 days older than the grow bag larvae have their carrots looking different. Both the grow bag & the plastic bin carrots are from the same date & sliced as half spears laid core facet down into the bran. The plastic bin larvae have worked in & onto the soft surface, but the larvae did not penetrate all the way through to the other side (carrot skin surface) nor as extensively eat away carrot flesh.
Furthermore, in the plastic bin the carrots fished out of the bran bedding showed patina of light mould, some bran packed onto the moist facet of the carrots, & some softened carrot flesh sectors are penetrated/bored into by larvae. The relative humidity of the plastic bin sample of larvae is, if relevant, even regularly much lower (up to 10% lower) than the grow bag relative humidity; they're in different rooms.
Now, I do not know if mealworm grow bags enclosed in their grow tent have ~1 month old larvae that get into picking the carrots clean with no sign of mould. Which is why I am detailing my experience &, as elaborated elsewhere in the Forum, remark that my grow bag housing is shrouded with only cotton sheeting & agricultural shade cloth. The side most exposed to air in the room has just medium weave agricultural shade cloth covering it.
When the grow bag larvae were younger I did not see such thorough consumption of the carrots & did have to change carrots out that seemed marginally trending toward mould. Once the larvae are old enough to make a sustained dent in the carrots I think the grow bag with ventilation maximizes the carrots utility for moisture & nutrients, with apparently no trend toward early mould.
The expenditure on carrots (or similar vegetable) is a factor in mealworm production cost analysis. It seems, comparatively, that once the larvae grow big enough my plastic bins' carrots are wasted more than in my ventilated grow bags. Anyone have experience with grow bags inside a tent whose month old larvae pick their carrots clean, so to speak, or is it always necessary to catch them before they (the carrots) go bad with patina suggesting mould?
So I'm starting my mealworm journey and planning on doing some taste trials using different feed (bedding first, moisture sources later). You guys use wheatbran, others use oatmeal, and others chicken feed pellets. Do you guys know of any differences in taste based on what you feed them?
Hey Guys, remember I made a base liner for under the kit out of silver-thermo stuff? Works great EXCEPT: Packaging tape on corner folds attracts the little beasties, they unstick it and crawl into the folds.
They shouldn't really escape the bags, but I have holes in mine.
I have just used a glue gun to seal and fill - lets see if they eat through that! The VERY best way to go would be to see if there is a pre-formed plastic tray of the right size and be done with all the fiddly work.
Hi all, I am soon to embark on making my mealworm farm. I am currently only going to be breeding them for personal consumption. Should I start on a smaller scale than in the design provided on the website instructions? I specifically want to know right away if I should order less plastic tubs, because I want to put that order in today so they can arrive in the mail soon. I also want to know what type of cloth I should be looking for in order to sew the mealworm bags. There are still no pre-made kits to purchase at this point, correct? Thanks so much!
Also- for the fabric I am buying for the mealworm farm tent, is it okay if the fabric says it's waterproofness comes from Urethane Coating?
Hey guys. This is more related to the mealworms themselves than to the stuff I plan to use to raise them.
I want to ask how to make them taste better, as I have tasted them before and they taste like sunflower seeds, unsalted and with the shells. I am thinking of the obvious, such as feeding them certain things, even including spices, and using seasonings before they're cooked, but do you guys have any other tips?
Also, I would like to know what plants are bad for them.
What creative solutions have you come up with for keeping mealworms at about 75degrees Farenheit? My mealworm farm is in my ground-level storage room, which is colder than the rest of the house and we only heat the house 60-68 (60 when we are out or asleep, 68 when we are home). I need a low wattage energy-saving heat source to get the mealworms to stay at 75 degrees or so.
@clararain - for a small setup, many folks use heat mats that can purchased online or at pet stores. There are some other suggestions elsewhere on the forum (christmas lights and a simple radiant heat system) and some documentation on the Wiki under equipment guides (accessible via the top menu)
help! I am harvesting my first batch of mealworms for eating, and I can't figure out a good way to separate the mealworms from the shedded exoskeletons and the wheat bran. I sifted them all through a sieve, which separated them from most of the frass and wheat bran but there is still wheat bran mixed in and definitely a lot of shedded exoskeletons still mixed in. And some dead mealworms mixed in to boot. I don't want to eat shedded exoskeletons, wheat bran (gluten allergy), or the mealworms that were already dead. My current plan is to put it all in the freezer together and then hope I can wash them after they are frozen/dead.
Also, if you have any easy ideas for sealing the top of the mealworm grow bags, I'd welcome advice on that, too. The mealworms were crawling out!
Hi clararain, - I float the still live larva & whatever residues that are inside the collander/strainer I sifted out the easily removed bran (& frass) in. After that I dump the larvae & inter-mingled solids into a large open container of cold water I have ready; portions will float & live larvae sink to the bottom. Then it's skim, swirl, pour off water with floating exo-skeleton/particles/discolored bus, hold back live larvae, pick out anything easy/pupal among the wet jumble of larvae, repeat adding cold water to float/swirl/skim/hand-kneed mass, pour off water as many times feel compelled to & since I immediately boiling sterilize them do not obsess if haven't picked out every carrot/bran fiber particle (rolling boil sends these loose if gluten allergy necessitates removal of every bran fiber).
Wandering larvae in grow bags is normal & I keep an eye on how pervasive it has gotten to collect that herd before pupation change over happens in too many individuals. I use a rubber band to secure the grow bag top opening after gathering the top sleeve, twisting it shut after every time access the bag (ex: add carrot/bran), folding the twisted "neck" back down over itself , encircling bunched fabric & , depending on size of rubber band, cinching fabric with rubber band so twisted "neck" can't loosen. Some wanderers get up into the twisted closed "neck"
bottom reaches, but they are held in & not going to be killed by being there; I've found a hole in some grow bags presumably from an incident of chewing (so far when twist "neck" again have been able to orientate the hole into an inward wrapping fold).
Edit: "... discolored bugs ..."
thank you gringojay!
@clararain if your gluten allergy is severe you should probably purge the mealworms (withhold food for a day or so to empty gut, or switch to a gluten free diet such as cornmeal) before harvest and eating since they may have residual bran in their guts. You could also experiment with using alternative substrates such as rice bran, oat bran etc.. in place of wheat bran to begin with