|photo credit: blacksoldierflyblog.com|
What I found after trying to raise my own BSF was that they consumed food waste quickly and in large amounts, just as it has been promised. I was hoping that after enough BSF reproduced, I could start a second BSF bin and start feeding them to my chickens. There are quite a few people commenting on the blog how much their chickens love to eat the larvae. Obviously they are very high in protein and a good supplement to their regular feed. Here is a video from YouTube showing what a small colony of BSF larvae can do to a fresh hamburger in five hours (I didn't have this many larvae, nor the wish to have them eat a perfectly fresh hamburger that I had just bought):
Unfortunately I didn't understand the reasons why BSF don't naturally thrive in the arid environment where I live. Although there are plenty of neighbors with horse and cow manure which the flies like as a food source and a good supply of food scraps that I left in the bin, I found that the larvae would mature, leave the bin, transform into adults with wings, and fly away. There were a few adults that flew back to lay eggs, but there weren't enough eggs to keep the whole colony going. (They look like wasps as adults, but they are harmless and only live long enough to breed and lay eggs.) I also read on the BSF blog from others living in cold climates how the larvae are difficult to keep alive during the winter. Despite their potential advantages, I abandoned my BSF plans last year.
This winter, I decided to see if I would have better success with earthworms that with the BSF larvae. I used the BSF bin that I created from two five-gallon buckets, and removed the extra pieces that the worms didn't need. (The inside bucket was drilled with a bunch of small holes so that excess water and "compost tea" would drain into the second bucket.) I used a paper shredder to fill the bucket half full of shredded newspaper which I then soaked in water. I bought a couple of containers of worms from Walmart (where they sell fishing equipment), just to try it out. The fifty worms have survived just fine in my garage, but they were not active enough to eat much of the food that I left for them. The larger scraps were not touched, but the smaller scraps were starting to be broken down. I tried moving the bucket to the laundry room where it was warmer, but my wife didn't appreciate it there. It is for a good cause, right? :-) For now, it is tucked away in the basement until I can find a better place. Being in a warmer place has encouraged the worms to be much more active.
|photo credit: thewormdude.com|