The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Setting up a black soldier fly bin

Black soldier fly bin

We had several commenters ask questions about our new black soldier fly bin, so I'm going to see if I can answer them all in one fell swoop.  I understand the interest --- we've been intrigued by black soldier flies for years.  The reason we didn't experiment sooner is because we just didn't have time to reinvent the wheel and the only premade bin available when I started researching cost nearly $200.  Luckily, while we were dragging our heels, the folks over at were experimenting to create a lower-cost version that ships to your door for a total of $76.  Their website also walks you through all of their experiments so that you could make your own bin easily at home, but we decided to support their ingenuity and purchase a premade bin.

Black soldier fly larvae

If you follow our lead, I recommend you start some food fermenting to attract black soldier flies as soon as you place your order.  It can take a few weeks for rotten materials (with fermented grain being the blog author's recommendation) to become ripe enough to attract the mother flies, so you might as well start early.  Since we didn't think ahead in that way, I started some chick feed fermenting as soon as we got our bin, but I also went hunting around the yard for black soldier fly larvae to seed our new bug station.  I quickly found a dozen relatively mature larvae in the bedding beneath what was the duck brooder, where spilled feed spoiled and attracted the parent flies.  Other good places to look for larvae and eggs include under the lids of trash cans (for eggs) and in your compost bin (for larvae).

Feeding black soldier fly bin

I filled the bin halfway with partially rotted sawdust (and a bit of homemade charcoal at the bottom) for bedding, then added a bit of the bedding material that my found larvae were living in on top.  The fermenting chick feed went in a container on top of the bedding so the feed will stay wet, and I also added a few vegetable scraps to start prerotting, since black soldier fly larvae (like compost worms) need food partially broken down before they can eat it.  And then my favorite cousin-in-law also came bearing gifts --- coffee grounds, which one of our commenters reports makes a great food for black soldier fly larvae.  Hopefully this combination of materials will get our bin up and running in short order.  Stay tuned for many more updates in the near future.

If any other cousins-in-law are wondering how to make it into the favorite category, it's pretty simple.  Brave our moat and come visit!  Bearing biomass, of course....

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Question. How much chicken feed will this produce? How many grubs are you expecting per week? I do not even know enough about this to ask the proper question but I hope you get the drift. Will it be enough to be a substantial caloric addition or is this just for a treat? Will this replace any supplements you may currently use?


Comment by Noah Fri Aug 1 11:06:44 2014

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