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Mealworms
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Chez



Joined: 13 Aug 2006
Posts: 35859
Location: The Hive of the Uberbee, Quantock Hills, Somerset
PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 16 11:45 am    Post subject: Mealworms  Reply with quote    

So. Mealworms.

I've got a plastic chest of drawers system set up. The beetles are in the two small drawers at the top. I sieve out the frass and the eggs in to the two small drawers under that.

Then I sieve the hatched mealworms in to a drawer under that one.

And then I have two drawers that are filling up with frass and possibly eggs but I'm not sure.

How do I get rid of the frass? Is there a size of mesh that will separate that and the eggs and hatchlings?

I seem to have a million of them roughly, so it's all going quite well, but at some point I'm going to have more frass than actual bedding.

wellington womble



Joined: 08 Nov 2004
Posts: 14805
Location: East Midlands
PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 16 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I don't think you can sift eggs. Not sure about hatchlings, though. I keep them in solid bottomed trays until you can see the babies, and then just tip them into a mesh bottomed one. The frass falls into the next one down the tower until I have a solid one at the bottom.

The mesh works well (no sieving, and keeps the ages separate and flowing) but I'm having problems securing it, I keep having structural failures and they all fall into the next tray down. I need to measure the gauge and find some rigid mesh. A rainy day job.

Chez



Joined: 13 Aug 2006
Posts: 35859
Location: The Hive of the Uberbee, Quantock Hills, Somerset
PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 16 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

When you've measured the gauge, could you let me know? I was thinking of making a sieve of the Exact Right Size Holes, rather than using one of the kitchen ones.

Also, how do you get rid of the dead bits of beetle? Are you just picking them out? I ended up starting off my top two drawers by sieving out the lump of stuff in the vivarium and putting the beetles and bigger worms in the top as my breeding boxes. However, there is loads of straw etc mixed in that is making it impossible to properly winnow through, and corpses. I am picking both out by hand every so often, a bit at a time, but there's so MUCH of it, it's rather time consuming.

wellington womble



Joined: 08 Nov 2004
Posts: 14805
Location: East Midlands
PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 16 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I don't really bother. They all end up in the harvest tray eventually. I'll let you know the mesh sizes when I get a tape and the stuff in one place.

Chez



Joined: 13 Aug 2006
Posts: 35859
Location: The Hive of the Uberbee, Quantock Hills, Somerset
PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 16 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I'm frightened to harvest any in case I have some sort of End Of Life event with the mature beetles. I'm rather vague about it all, to be honest.

BahamaMama



Joined: 21 Sep 2006
Posts: 2315
Location: Away with the fairies
PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 16 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Have you two set up a robin farm?

Chez



Joined: 13 Aug 2006
Posts: 35859
Location: The Hive of the Uberbee, Quantock Hills, Somerset
PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 16 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Womble has them IN HER DINING ROOM. That's even more eccentric than me, I'm delighted.

It's part of my 'the poor hens can't free range and aren't getting any bugs' thing. They are 40% protein and it's so very easy. And sieving them is quite soothing.

BahamaMama



Joined: 21 Sep 2006
Posts: 2315
Location: Away with the fairies
PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 16 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Soothing.......

Possibly not for the mealworms

Chez



Joined: 13 Aug 2006
Posts: 35859
Location: The Hive of the Uberbee, Quantock Hills, Somerset
PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 16 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I pretended I was panning for gold, this morning. I have a very active inner life

Hairyloon



Joined: 20 Nov 2008
Posts: 14800
Location: Today I are mostly being in Yorkshire.
PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 16 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I have been meaning to give this a go, to see how they get on with my waste products.
Thank you for the inspiration...

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 32892
Location: yes
PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 16 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

i have never gone for the layer system ,just a biscuit tin and some slightly damp unsalted crackers .i harvested by hand and added more crackers til it got messy then put a quarter into a fresh tin and the rest in the toad enclosure.

ps if you have a lot they are rather nice honey roasted or dry fried with a bit of salt and chilli.

wellington womble



Joined: 08 Nov 2004
Posts: 14805
Location: East Midlands
PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 16 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I only keep them in the dining room. Although it would be worth it to see Lady J's face!

I went for a low input system, although it takes a bit of setting up. I wanted loads to feed to the chicks and quail, as bribes to make them behave! The beetles and the harvest trays have mesh in the bottom, which is 13 holes to the inch, or 7 to the cm. The growing worms go on mesh which is 39 holes to the inch or 17 to the cm. Frass, eggs and worms that are not yet visible go on solid bottoms.

They live in a hi-rise IKEA trofast unit (I cut the bottoms out with a Stanley knife) and I just move everything on a drawer every week or so. I give them fresh veg and top up the oats about once a week, and put a few slices of state bread on top. They like to hide and eat them. otherwise I completely ignore them. Unless visiting children want to play with them. They do, all the time. The order goes like this:

Beetles (mesh)
Eggs (solid)
Nursery (solid)
Nursery (solid)
Harvest (mesh)
Growers (net)
Growers (net)
Growers (net)
Growers (net)
Frass (solid)

The harvest is in the middle, as its on mesh to let food through, which them goes all the way down through the growers until you get just the powerdery frass at the bottom.

The beetles tray is fairly static, the others just move down the tower, or get tipped into the next stage. When the harvest tray is nearly empty I let the last few pupate and start them off in the beetles tray again.
If I was doing it again I would get some baskets, as I can't secure the mesh properly and it keeps falling off, tipping all the critters into the next stage down. Also, it sags terribly, meaning you can't pull the drawers out easily, and the beetles all died off (this may have been age as we were away for the summer, or it may have been heat because they were all squashed in. The worms were fine, even being ignored for a month) I'm planning on getting some stainless steel mesh for them, but plastic baskets would probably be better, if they fit.

I had planned on putting them in the cellar. But the cellar is horrible and I don't like going down there and they are no trouble where they are. They are no bother, really. They smell of stale breadcrumbs and at night the beetles make a scratchy scratchy noise so you think it is raining. They make dust, but what doesn't? Lady J has some special beetles that live in a special plastic box in her room. She took them into school as well!

I'll take some pictures when I've sorted my structural issues and got the thing going again. It's a bit stalled after the beetle failure.

SandraR



Joined: 22 Oct 2006
Posts: 2346
Location: Devon
PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 16 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Would love to see a step by step photographic guide.

Hairyloon



Joined: 20 Nov 2008
Posts: 14800
Location: Today I are mostly being in Yorkshire.
PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 16 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

wellington womble wrote:
The beetles and the harvest trays have mesh in the bottom, which is 13 holes to the inch, or 7 to the cm. The growing worms go on mesh which is 39 holes to the inch or 17 to the cm. Frass, eggs and worms that are not yet visible go on solid bottoms.

What sort of mesh do you use and where do you get it?

wellington womble



Joined: 08 Nov 2004
Posts: 14805
Location: East Midlands
PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 16 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Herein lies the problem. I used window screen and nylon mesh, but I can't secure it to the box well enough (trofast boxes have a sort of gutter that makes hot glueing impossible). I've been using duct tape, but it keeps failing, and the fabric itself sags. I'm looking at stainless steel mesh next. I'll report back. Baskets would probably work better. When I actually get it working properly, I'll definitely do an article.

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