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Black soldier fly and red wiggler combo box

 
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Hi folks.   I've got a new worm bin going and I want to start raising BSFL to speed up the compost proces, in the same bin.  I've heard this makes great compost, and I'm really just trying to get the larvae going to do other experiments with them.    Anyway just wondering if anyone knows a good way to do this easily without ending up with a bunch of adult flies around, or having them fly off with all my biomass.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 208
Location: WNC 6b
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Good day,
We generally don't raise them together. The BSFL tend to be more aggressive top feeders. Keeping the worms at from eating as much. With even feed stock added, it seems it would work.

We raised them indoors once...that was interesting when they flew around the house. haha my bad!

Have you considered allowing them to climb up a slide or chute? perhaps something like this?

https://gardenpool.org/beneficial-insects/black-soldier-fly-composter-automatic-chicken-feeder
 
pollinator
Posts: 3842
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Hi Jeremy,

It's a laudable goal, but from what I've read, they don't like to coexist at the same time for some reason, although red wigglers love the BSFL leavings. Maybe something about the digestive enzymes they leave behind, I don't know.

I would suggest perhaps a simple baffle system, with holes small enough that BSFLs could move over from their spent section to the fresh one, at which point you'd cycle the red wigglers into the section they just vacated.

Or if there's free passage between the two areas, the BSFLs could move as they wish, and if the concentration of BSFL activity got to be too much for the worms, they could move over to the other section, and you could simply keep adding fresh contributions to the section where there are the most BSFLs.

I think if there was a way to let them not only move freely to bins that best suit their needs at any point, but to use the life cycle or movement of the BSFLs to time when bins get emptied, that would yield an efficient system. Realistically, I think I would plan out a joined three-bin system, wherein the fresh contributions and BSFLs start out in the first bin. When they'd consumed most of that biomass, I would add fresh contributions to the second bin, and they'd move over there, whereupon I'd add the red wigglers to the first bin. I would then proceed as before, waiting until most of the biomass had been consumed in the second bin before adding any to the third bin. The red wigglers would process everything in the first bin in the meantime, moving to the second when the BSFLs had vacated it for the third bin.

If every bin had a sieve drawer incorporated into it, or could otherwise be emptied out to be screened for unprocessed biomass and most worms, after the system had been filled, every time a bin would be filled up with fresh biomass, it would first have to be emptied of the resultant worm castings.

And if every bin had a BSFL chute, either directly to chickens, or perhaps into a holding jar that got frozen daily for later chicken feeding, you'd get a powerful system for soil generation and feeding chickens, and no more flies than it takes to keep your BSFLs going. The idea is to make sure that some survive to keep the cycle going, after all.

Great instincts, though, and good ideas. I want to see ideas like this made mainstream anywhere there's food waste, so basically anywhere there are people. We could produce so much healthy food from it, and if one can't keep pigs and chickens where the waste is generated, one can certainly keep a BSFL and red wiggler protein for chooks machine (with built-in freeze-dryer, at need) and soil generator.

Imagine grocery stores selling fresh bags of local worm castings and freeze-dried backyard chicken pellets. Imagine mom-and-pop produce stores doing the same, and the profit enabling them to both reinvest in their business' resilience, and to take slightly riskier margins, as the potential "waste" is still fed back into the system, generating returns.

And think about having such a three-bin system, just living off a roofed-over wall of your chicken tractor, going where they go, and accepting your semi-weekly donations for eggs, meat, and soil.

It is a beautiful concept.

-CK
 
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Location: Nara, Japan. Zone 8-ish
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All our worm bins get BSFL in them during the summer. They seem to coexist fine for us. We only add worm friendly stuff. Adult flies come and go, but aren't a nuisance.

If BSF are in your area and can get in your compost, they will. During the summer, there are always plenty of BSFL in our worm bin. We could just grab a handful anytime if we wanted. They have free access to our worm bin and I haven't noticed any loss of biomass.
 
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