Here is the transcript from the Facebook Live Event in Mealworm Farming CO-OP. This was automatically transcribed, please be patient with any errors:
Good morning. We are here for another episode of mealworms and more. We're gonna give folks a few minutes to join. Let's say four after, so hang in there with me, or if you're watching the recording, go ahead and zoom forward or fast forward to four minutes in.
All right. Let's let's get rolling. So good morning, everyone. Welcome to mealworms and more. My name is Justin Meyer. Hi I own and run Midwest mealworms in central, Missouri. And we do these lives from the co-op group.
Once a week is the goal. I'm hitting that now two weeks in a row. I think I missed one week. Hey, Valara welcome. Thanks for joining again. So this is just a an open forum for folks to come ask questions discuss anything mealworm related whether it's business shipping, colony problems, maybe you had a success in the last week or something like that.
Built a new tool. I built a new tool. So. We're just here to kind of chat, talk through things, go ahead and put comments, questions, anything you want to down there in, in the comments this will get posted to the Facebook co-op group. So if you miss it or can only see part of it it will be out on the Facebook group to watch.
Again, if I miss anything, if you guys comment or, or throw a question out there and I don't respond and you're expecting that, please tag me sometimes Facebook doesn't show, show that. Alright, well, let's get rolling. How's everybody doing this morning? I see some folks out there. Anybody have any questions, concerns, issues they want to chat about?
The farm is currently not there's nothing to happen over in the insect room, so we can go over there. If you guys have any questions about the setup here, or if you're having some issues of your own, please feel free to toss those out and we'll tackle 'em together. I did see a comment. Just about 20 minutes ago from Rick Ott in the Facebook group he did a quick search and he couldn't find anything.
Will mice eat meal worms 100%. Yes they will. And several people have already commented. I, one of the things I really enjoy about this group is that people are engaged and providing feedback looks like cash. Cassie provided some this morning and even went and grabbed a screen cap that highlights that mealworms are a good treat.
For mice. I'm just, I'm super excited that everybody here is just engaging and responding to each other. I love that. Ma thank you for the question. Let's see. Do pupae need moisture while waiting to turn into beetles? Thank you. They need humidity. So yes, but not like direct moisture, like your larva the mealworm or the beetles.
So the, Hey Shannon, I see that. Hey Caitlin. Welcome. I'll get to you in just a second. Shannon. Mary, welcome. Welcome. Good to see you. Sorry. So back I got distracted by all these comments here. Do pupae need moisture? So no, not directly. Like you don't wanna feed them potato slices or water gel crystals or, or cucumber, something like that.
They don't, they're not gonna actively eat. What they'll do is when they're larva and they're getting ready to turn into the pupa, you wanna make sure that they've got a good moisture source and good humidity, 50% and above if you start to get above 70 maybe even 60 you run the risk of mold and other, other things might stuff like that.
50% is a good, you know, kind of at home humidity and what you want to do as they're larva going into that pupa stage, make sure they have moisture. And then during the pupa stage, which can last. I think it's like four to 19 days just depends on your environment conditions. It could go longer potentially.
But you want to aim for about 50% humidity. And so if you live in, like, we have a bunch of folks that live in the Southwest and even in the Midwest here, it gets dry. During the summer, sometimes we have a lot of humidity but wintertime a lot it gets really dry. I actually use a humidifier.
So depending on your setup, you can do a humidifier if that's an option for you and that's gonna humidify the entire room, obviously if you don't wanna do a humidifier if you use a tray system, so if you use like a rubber made tray system and you close that tray and it's enclosed, like it's not open vent you or an open tray, just bin sitting on a table or something.
You can create a microclimate in there with a very lightly misted damp paper towel. You don't want it dripping. You don't want it sopping wet. Just get it a little wet to start trying this and put it in that tray with pupae and close it. And that's gonna create a microclimate inside of that tray. That's gonna give a higher humidity for your pupae and help them out during that stage.
So hopefully that helped. Thank you more for the question there. Let me start scrolling and seeing what we got going on here Francis. Good morning. Glad you could watch this morning with us. Hopefully. We can get some more of that. It's not as much fun to watch the recording cuz you can't engage right, right out of the gate.
Right? Lynn, I'd like some information on how you organize your drawers, trays, your mealworm filing system, as it were. Got it. I can do that. Lazar is a blank paper. One question. How heavy is one beetle? Oh my gosh. I don't know if I've ever weighed one single beetle.
I'm trying to think. I'm gonna that tray question. I'll get to that. We're gonna go into the farm for that one. Valar, let me look at this one more time. If it is a blank paper, one question, how heavy is one beetle? I have them at 0.1 0.1, one grams. People are making selection on pupae and state to have beetles 0.1 4, 1 5 grams for the beetles.
I don't know if my scale is sensitive enough to do one beetle. I might look into a more sensitive scale, cuz I don't know the answer to that question. I haven't had to weigh just one beetle. I did see there's a, a group or a an account I guess on Instagram. And I'm trying to remember the name of it, but they published recently a lot of good info on their pupae weights.
And then their beetles. I can't remember the name of it. I'm gonna try to find it here before we head into the farm. That's great. It was pretty interesting. I put a couple comments on it because I was curious, they were selecting the bigger pupae right. And so I was just curious, like is bigger, healthier.
Is there a reason you think bigger is better? And they felt that over time it had resulted in less beetle issues. Is it these guys? I wanna make sure I get it right. Cuz they're, they're a good account to follow they've. They've been posting some of the things that they do that they're working on.
It is kind of like a teaser. Yes. So it is insectapro.farm on Instagram. They've got quite a few posts and they they're, they're giving some teasers. They never come out. Right. And say like, here's what we're doing. They have an interesting funnel system. I haven't built one yet. But I'm gonna integrate that into the the big sifter I'm building.
So da, da, da, make them in groups of 10 and divide Evans. Welcome. Welcome. Alright, so let's talk, Lynn, let's talk about, let me go find that comment. And now we have a bunch of folks in here just to, to throw it out there again. If I seemingly ignore your question or comment, please tag me sometimes Facebook doesn't throw it all out there.
All right, Lynn, I'd like some information how you organize your drawers, trays, your mealworm filing system as it were. All right. So let's sorry. I covered up the whole cameras there. Let's head into the farm. Take a small walk. Let's turn around.
Good morning, mealworms. All right. So here is the farm and let's talk about our quote unquote filing system. So I'm headed back to the beetles. All the way in the back of the room, you see beetles in there. Hello, beetles. And so our filing system, what we do right now, we're using two letters. I started with one letter and that just went too fast.
So we're doing two letters. So you can see like w N w K VZ w wa WC XE XL. And so what we do is we label every single one of those trays. And then we document when it was created. So yesterday I created five, four or five over there. They got yesterday's date in the notebook, and then two months from now, they will be cold.
So we will swap these excuse me, a total of eight times over the course of eight weeks, once a week. And then on the final week they'll be swapped and then we're actually gonna call that tray. So that's how we keep track. You know, that's our quote unquote filing system.
We document the tray name. So Y N Y O Y P for these guys here. We document the weight that we put in which is usually one 50 to one 60 150 to 160 grams. And the date that the bin started and we'll start these bins all throughout the week, we're actually collecting beetles. You can see our pupae that are turning into beetles here.
So you can see there's fresh ones starting to pop. There's some good ones right there. Nice shade of reddish, brownish. So we collect those three days a week and then once we have enough to create a tray which we do, cause we got two, we have two stacks going there. We'll build those trays all throughout the week.
And then on Mondays I actually ship out live beetles. So I'll come in, I'll collect the fresh beetles that have hatched over the weekend. And then I will ship out the ones that have sold or make trays out of anything if nothing sold or if I have extra beetles on Monday. So that's how we're, we're doing that.
And then once. once we do beetle swap, what we're doing is so we'll swap all these trays and this row, these guys back here all the way on the far back wall, that was the beetle swap from late last week. So those were all the trays that we swapped out. They're full of the egg Laden brand and the eggs on the bottom.
And they will just sit right now week one to two, we're not doing anything week two and beyond up until we can see the exoskeleton on the top of the brand we're spraying. So I just, just started doing that again. I can talk about that more in depth later. But these guys just kind of move down the line and every week, as you can notice, we're all the way up against the wall here.
Right? So when we do beetle swap tomorrow, yeah, cuz today's Thursday, when we do beetle swap tomorrow these trays will all get moved down. One slot basically. And so we just move them down, cuz we're gonna harvest. They get older as we go down, these guys are all the, the big fat ones. They get harvested and processed down here and then everything is gonna move down a row so that we get room down at the end to start the next one.
So hopefully that helps Lynn if if you have any more questions about that, definitely let me know. Ooh, sneak peek. All right. Let me scroll and see. I'm just gonna kind of walk around while I keep looking here.
Do do,do, man. I really do not like the way Facebook does this. How do you sort the hatch beetles from unhatched cullable beetles. It takes a long time by hand. Yes it does. So let's go back and talk about that. This is actually a sore point for me. I'm I'm frustrated with how inefficient this has been for me. So I'm trying to make some changes.
So this let's get to some more light back here in the back. I don't have a lot of light it's just not really needed except the one you wanna see things. So let's move these guys to some more light and I'm driving and trying to keep the video stable here. So bear with me.
All right. So what we will do, let's go through a couple options here. We'll grab this guy in there and we've got this guy. So current process, we'll put the pupa down on some brand and then we put these paper towels on and as you can see, they clinging, the problem I have is that there's a bunch there.
That don't right. And so we're trying to tackle that one of the things we're gonna change I think it was Justin P that commented recently. We're gonna try without brand and see how it goes. So this tray is only a day and a half old, maybe. And so there are some beetles still down in there.
I'm curious to see how this goes, but that's what we're gonna do. And, and ultimately, you know, it is a pain in the neck to try to capture every single one of these beetles. So ultimately what we're doing is we're producing more beetles than we need. And it's just a matter of getting the ones that we can off of these paper towels currently.
And then the ones that are in there, they just stay in there. Unfortunately it frustrates me cuz I would love to get every last beetle, but it's just not worth the time or effort. So let's see here. How do you sort, so Heather, hopefully that, that helped. And we do that. This is our rolling cart of pupation trace and I like to have things on wheels so we can move 'em around when there's multiple people in here.
It's nice to be able to slide around as I put as much on wheels as possible, you can see our workbench. Even the shipping table over there, which hasn't moved in a while. It can be moved if we need to. And so I do have a couple things I need to work on the super worms back here that guy's not on wheels need to fix that.
And our filter fan here. Need to fix that too, but we'll get there. Da, da a right. Awesome questions guys. Again, if I skip over something, please please tag me. How do you file the mealworms? You've sorted by size? How do I file the mealworms that we've sorted by size? I think I understand the question.
Let me walk through what we do. So these two rose here, this one and this one these both got harvested Monday. I think Ben did that. And so what we'll do when a, when a row is ready, let's take a look at at this one. So it was, I'm gonna try not to block the light. So we zoom in here. Yeah. See how I move this.
And there's just a ton of frass in here. Not a lot of wheat brand. There's a little bit, but not a lot. So this tray or these, these trays are likely going to be processed. There's a little tiny beetle in here likely gonna be processed. Maybe tomorrow, maybe Monday. I might come in over the weekend.
We'll see. But what we'll do is let me see if I can get a closer look here. You can see there's various sizes. Like there's bigger ones. There's this smaller guy. Here's a very small comparatively for this bin. Here's a small meal worm. What we'll do is when we sift and sort, so we're gonna take all those trays and we're gonna pump them through that guy right now to sift out frass.
So we've got the one 30th mesh ser there. The frass goes down into the bucket. You can see some in there and that this, this. Level lets the frass through and then stops all of the smaller meal worms, the bigger meal worms, the pupae the beetles. If there are any, they'll stay in here. Side note, if there's beetles in your frass, don't sell that to anybody.
When we have that, we just basically call it junk frass. We keep it for ourselves and use it right away so that somebody down the line doesn't get mealworms in their frass. But anyway I digress a little bit there. So the, the larger stuff is captured here, the smalls the ones that, that aren't harvested end up here.
And basically what we'll do is we will weigh them out and put them back into a tray, which is what this row is. These were all smalls as of Monday. And as you can see, they've got wheat brain in there. And basically they go back into a tray to grow out some more. The goal here is we're selling live insects.
And so if we were selling dried or dehydrated or. If we were selling small we would, you know, change this, but right now, anything that's not harvested goes back in to grow up some more harvested ones come over here. And then what I'll do is they'll start popping. pupae because they were stressed out with the harvesting process.
So I'll just grab all those in the middle as they kind of self sort put themselves in the middle. And then the harvested ones will go in the fridge to cool down and stay nice. And plump Lynn, hopefully that helped if any of that was unclear, please let me know. All right. That's the room. We like it here.
Good questions guys. I appreciate that. If anybody has anything, please let me know. I think I got, oh, Hey Shannon. I know the beetles for further dark, but are they harmed or less productive if they're in the light? They're not harmed. So let's actually go take a look back here with the beetles. Let's turn back around.
Shoot. Try not to move too fast. So these beetles are not harmed by the light. They just don't like it. They are darkling beetles. They want to be in the dark. So these guys are back here. Oddly enough, there's not a lot of light, which is a, a good thing for 'em that way they can be up and moving around.
They don't like it though. So what I believe will happen here. As we put these guys out into the light, they are going to do their best to start going down into that wheat brand. They want to, they want to be away from that. And if we had anything in here, if we had cover like a, an egg carton or a paper towel or something, they would start to collect under that as well to get away from the light.
They just don't. Don't enjoy.
Lynn, my finally system is exactly yours on a micro scale, so I feel content. Awesome. Awesome. Glad to hear that, Lynn. Yeah, I remember when I first started documenting and tracking these once I learned that that mealworms beetles lay 95 ish percent of their eggs in the first two months, and then it just plummets.
I realized I needed to start tracking this so that as soon as they were two months old, I could get them out the door and free up that tray to get more productive beetles in it. I started with a single letter and I went through that pretty quickly. I was like, all right, I can't just keep doing the alphabet over and over again.
So then I went to double letters and that seems to be working okay so far so good. Anyway, and then we document that we slowly come over here. We document that in our notebook.
Like this pretty straightforward tray, identifier, quantity, date started date stop. And so right now, like these trays I made yesterday and through R YN through yr, 150 grams, roughly, you know, if it's a hundred fifty, a hundred fifty five, a hundred sixty I'm not gonna, you know, waste my time, writing each individual number down.
That's just not a number I'm worried about keeping extremely accurate. I want one 50 to about 1 65 is the variance I'll I'll do here. We started that yesterday. Yes. And then two months from now, 10 17 is when that thing needs to be called. So depending on when beetles swap lands that week, these guys might go beyond that date, which is okay.
We just want to, you know, if it's 10 16 and we see this, we're gonna go ahead and call it. We don't want 'em to sit in there or swap for another week. Because that bin is gonna be very unproductive at that point. So good stuff. Okay. I swear, I saw a comment in here about spraying Valar. Was it, you, let me go find it.
Give me a second.
Oh my gosh. The scrolling. I gotta figure out how to do that. Better spray them. Yes, it was you. So yes, sir. Spraying them. So let's talk about that for a second. Oh, hold on. Sorry, Lynn. Just to keep the thread going there, I keep my breeders and color drawers and move the substrate, wiping the drawer.
Well then returning the beetles into the color drawers. Hmm. I would be careful if I'm understanding, understanding correctly, Lynn, so, so let me make sure I'm, I'm hearing you correctly. So this is let's say this is a tray of your beetles. What you're saying is you separate out the substrate. And then you put the substrate in a different tray, in a different bin, and then you put fresh substrate in here after wiping the tray down and you put beetles in, if that's correct.
I, I think you're losing you're losing some of your meal worms, cuz what will happen is these beetles are going to lay their eggs in the bran, but also on the bottom of the tray. So if you're wiping that down, then you're probably getting rid of meal or makes, so let's take a look at this. Here's what, here's what we do from a, oh, I already have a tray over here.
I'm grabbing multiple trays. Oh, oh. While we're here though. Look at that. See how they're starting to go down. So it started like this. They don't like that light they're going away. So Lynn, what we do with our beetles is we're gonna, we're gonna sift the substrate, right? We wanna take that substrate out in order to get the beetles, the beetles, then as long as they're not two months old, they will go back into a fresh tray, a different tray.
With fresh substrate. And then this tray, we put the brand back in because on the bottom of this tray, I'm hoping this is a, a new bin. So we'll see if we can see anything here. I'm just lightly blowing to try to get some of that substrate out of the way. See if you have any eggs in here yet. This is a fresh, fresh tray.
Let me get one. That's a little older. You're gonna have eggs on the bottom of that tray. And so instead of wiping it down, I'm gonna grab it one. I didn't make yesterday.
There we go. All right.
So these clusters of what look like just bra, these are very likely eggs. And so they're super, super, teeny tiny, but these clumps here that they put their eggs on. You don't wanna wipe those away. You wanna let those hatch out. And so that's why we take the substrate out. We take the beetles out and then we're gonna put that substrate back into this tray.
And then this tray with the beetles out, remember just the substrate is gonna then go into the system here to start just growing out. Okay. So if you are, if you're wiping your tray down, you might be losing some eggs. So I know you wanna keep that color system going. Oh, here we go. I meant wiped it into the new drawer of substrate I retained.
Okay, cool. Cool, cool, wonderful. That might have been a good one to do like a video together anyway. Okay. Spring Lazar. Let's get to it. I teased you enough, right? Spring. So I did this a long time ago in the old farm. My hypothesis at the time was that. These younger meal worms, you, you can't effectively and efficiently put moisture sources in here.
And what I mean by that is if you're using water gel, crystals, potatoes carrots, anything like that morning, sir. Anything like that? They're going to go to waste before these baby meal worms can, can eat them. So there are babies in here. Ooh, look at that little baby. Sorry, I got excited. This one right there.
He's trying to get away. You can put moisture sources in here. It's gonna be healthy for them. But what it's gonna result in is dried out moisture sources. So your water drill crystals are gonna dry out. Turn back into the hard rocks that they were your potatoes gonna dry out. Your carrots are gonna dry out.
And from a processing perspective in a, in a, in a system like mine, where I am harvesting these things I need that to happen efficiently and quickly. And so, because they don't eat everything from a moisture perspective, that stuff will clog up. The system later, when we, when we go to harvest, right, those shifters get clogged up.
And it's just a pain in the neck to have to remove that. So I stopped feeding until they were about four weeks old, stopped feeding moisture. And now, so those of you that have a good eye from a mealworm perspective can see there's some, sheddings some exoskeleton on top of here, these worms are ready to be fed a moisture source.
So let me blow on that real quick, see how those little castings fly everywhere. So this, these guys and older will be able to eat. Moisture source is completely gone. You can't overload 'em right. The younger ones get less, but they will be able to eat them. So these guys are just pulling moisture from the air, which isn't efficient from a production perspective.
So I can't remember when I saw this, but at some point I saw an automation system full of robots. They were moving trays and spraying them. and so I did some research and you can spray them. It's not gonna not gonna hurt it. As long as you follow you know, your normal, like best best case or, or best uses from a moisture perspective, if you overload these trays with too much you will drown them.
You'll create mold, et cetera. And so what I'd started out doing is this is a very small pump. Here's the model in case anyone is interested. This came off of an ATV tank sprayer. So I bought it brand new. So it didn't have any chemicals, nothing in it, nothing had been used. And this is just a low volume sprayer.
I used the nozzle that came with it. I did pick up a power pack. So instead of hooking this thing up to a battery or ATV, I bought a simple power pack. I think it was like six or eight bucks. And then that just plugs into the wall. Right? And so what I do is this is clean drinking water. And what I'll do is I'll turn this pump sprayer on, and it does a very light mist and I will.
I don't spray the super young ones. I give them a week to start getting a little bigger, but I'll start spraying here until we get to that stack that doesn't need moisture from spraying. They can eat water gel, crystals, or potatoes, carrots, whatever you're doing. And so I just do a very light spray. So like very quick, you know, it's gonna be spray, spray, spray very quick, very light missed just to kind of get the top a little bit wet and then they'll start going crazy.
So I don't know if I can do that with one hand. I might set this up in a second and try it out, but we've got some more stuff going on there. So I started doing that again. We did this in the old farm. Once Leo came on board one of the gentlemen on our team once Leo came on board he started doing this very consistently twice a week.
We went back and looked at the data recently and we saw an uptick in production after we started spraying. So my theory is that. By spraying these guys when they're younger, they're growing faster. And we are not causing that issue where as we get older, we have dried stuff that we run into when we harvest.
So the water, it moistens the top. And these guys I've been watering for the last week. And as you can see here, it's, it's not like crusty on top. It hasn't, you know, crusted over to where it, the meal owners can't break through it, cuz they're young, they are eating it. And it's evaporating and it's not causing any problems at the moment.
So we're just kind of tracking that to see how it goes. We've documented when we started and we'll see if the numbers show any sort of uptick in production. So hopefully that help bells are I'll, I'll make some more content about that. I just started that again recently, so I wanna make sure everything's okay.
Sorry. I almost tripped myself before I start telling folks that. You should do this. I did it in the past though. I'm very confident it's gonna work. I just wanna make sure. All right, let me do some more scrolling. How old are your worms when they're sellable size? Couple different answers there.
So this stack here 120,000, there's 20 in each one 15 on the top 115,000. That came from harvesting these two rows which are that many deep. And so when we did that, though, we harvested and then any, everything that was smaller got put back in. And so the worms that were harvested initially were two months old, and these guys are just taken a little longer, these the smaller ones.
And so, as you can see, these guys are already, they're cooking through this brand. As I move this, you can see the, the frass down in there. But you can, you can see these mealworm are starting to get bigger. These guys were smaller. You know, there's a, there's a much smaller guy right there. They just need more time to grow.
So I would estimate it's taking two to three months right now. My hope and, and what I think Heather is that by giving them moisture, when they're younger, they're gonna grow faster. The temperature and humidity in here have been very stable. Super happy about that. I'll, I'll get some data around that published but we're looking at about two to three months and I would like to shrink that down.
I'd like to get down to a month and a half, two months and less, right. Because the more you have to keep them here and feed them the more cost that is, et cetera, et cetera. So, all right, Lynn, more questions. I love it. You've said that you need, or you feed only as much as they can eat within 24 hours.
How often do you feed? I feed every two days right now.
I'm debating on doing that more frequently. I have started with these older trays, so like these two rows here, and maybe even this one, I might start feeding or if I have extra water gel crystals, or I'm getting low on a batch, I will go ahead and just throw them in there and make a new batch of water gel crystals.
So these guys sometimes get fed every day. But right now it's every two days. And what that does is it allows these younger trays. So like these guys here, you can see, these are smaller meal worms. They're still growing, right. It allows them time to eat through those water gel crystals. So here's actually the feeding from, right.
Let me get down below the comment. Sorry about that. So you can see the water gel. That's what these guys are. This is the water gel crystals. Okay. And so they just need a little bit more time to eat through it. They're not gonna eat as fast. So it'll take a little bit more time. Whereas these trays over here that we're also fed water gel crystals yesterday.
Are gone. What we have in here though, is some meat, extra protein. No, no, no. So every two days but if your meal worms have eaten through the moisture that you've given them and you have available moisture sources and time, so let's say you, you've got your mealworm farm set up on your kitchen counter,
and you get scraps.
You know, you're making stuffed peppers and you've got green pepper or, or pepper stems, that sort of thing. Check your farm. Even if you fed yesterday, check your farm. And if it's dry, if it's not still eating through what you gave it before, you know, like this tray here, I would go ahead and I'm gonna give them moisture source today, even though I've got this P piece of meat in here that's in one location and it's not a big one.
It's just a quick test. I'm doing, it's not loaded with moisture either. I'll go ahead and put some in here. So I'd put peppers in here from, you know, food scraps, that sort of thing. And as long as you're not overloading that tray and putting too much in that's gonna mold, they'll eat it up.
You get dried out moisture sources and fruit flies. Yes. That's what will happen. It will be a pain in the neck. I love how you continue to experiment to streamline your production system. That's really impressive. Thank you. I, I, I'm constantly trying to do this better. One of the things I like very much personally is process improvement.
And so we're trying to improve things here build that model out and get it out to the masses. Alright. Let's look over at the shipping table while I read some more of these questions, just to get a different view. You once said they grow more quickly consuming moisture content with nutritional value.
If this is true, why do you use crystals? Time and cost. So water gel crystals. Let's talk about those real quick. So here is some lovely water gel crystals. It's basically like jello and pieces, right? and so these water gel crystals, this whole tub is that second mark there, I believe is 20 gallons.
I I'm I'm I think it's been a while since I marked this tub I'm gonna say that's 20 gallons. And then I put in two pounds of water gel crystals. And that takes me about five minutes. Okay. And then I've got moisture for the entire wheat. If I were gonna use food, like potatoes, carrots, things like that.
In order to optimize it, even in a tray like this with big worms, you can't just put in, you know, half a potato on one side, they're not gonna have enough surface area to that potato to eat it with this number of worms before it starts to dry out. And so it has to be processed. You've gotta chop it, slice it, dice it, something to spread it out across the tray.
That's the most effective method. And that takes time. The other thing is carrots and potatoes here in Missouri have gone up. And it wasn't just in the last few months, you know, there's a lot going on in the us right now. But even before that, as of like two years ago, I saw costs starting to rise and decided I need to look for a better option.
Both from a cost perspective of buying the material or the, the food and then the, the processing. And so it's not hard. I mean, it's not like it's, you know, you need any sort of AR artificial intelligence to do it or anything like that. You can have a simple French fry cutter, which is what I have here.
I actually just did some, it's not zucchini or squash. It's some some specific version of that. The super worms love it. So I do feed that one. I can, and actually we've got some food waste here. These are cucumbers that went a little long, right? And from a farmer's market perspective, this is from my, my neighbor. He grows organic and sells up at the farmer's market. These aren't things that customers will buy. So this is technically a waste, even though this is perfectly good, fantastic, wonderful nutrition.
So this will get chopped up and fed to the supers first, the beetles and then I will pass it on to mealworms if there's extra. But it's purely from a cost perspective. Water gel crystals are cheap. The process is very simple. I can feed. So I'm gonna feed water gel crystals to those guys this, this 1, 2, 3, 5, 6.
Where did we stop? Seven rows? Yeah, we're gonna eight. I think if I'm counting, right. So I can, I can get all of those rows in about 30 minutes. I walk in and I go and I'm just throwing it each tray and they're gonna eat it. If I had to come in and process potatoes, carrots, food, waste something, my time would just go through the roof.
So from a labor cost perspective, I need something that's more financially viable. But I do use that food waste whenever I can. So like those cucumbers, they'll go to the super worms in the back I care and anything that's left over, I'll start feeding the oldest ones here. So these are the, the ones that we're gonna harvest and ship out.
So these guys generally don't get anything fancier extra. I wanted to test one piece of meat here. So this top tray does have meat in it, but it'll get separated off to the side so that everything that goes out is water, gel, crystals and wheat brand. So that way folks know what they're getting, but I'll put moisture or any extra moisture sources in here, cuz that nutrition is gonna go to, to good use for these guys.
All right, Mary, is there any problem with mold using the gel directly in the BR brain in the brand, in the brand? I think is what you mean there? Generally, no. So like this, this bin that I touched earlier, remember today is Thursday. So I'm not gonna feed again until tomorrow. This will dry up by tomorrow or be eaten.
So it looks like this tray is a little behind kind of a smaller tray. Yeah. If we look back here, you can see bigger worms in this row. Well, that's blurry. Come on there. There we go. See the, the big difference. So this tray may have come from somewhere like a, a low producing, sorry, this tray may have come from a, a older beetle tray and just doesn't have as much production, but you can see in this one, it was fed the same time and all the water gel crystals are gone.
There's nothing. Oh, there's a little, little, much less in here. Right? See this little guy much less in here. So they'll eat through that. If you continue, you know, like if, if you're trying to feed every day and I added more to this today, that's just adding more moisture to the bin and it's not going to be eaten up quick enough or dehydrate.
And so yes, that will create a mold scenario, especially in here, cuz we're running at 70, 75% humidity. So that humidity is a big factor. So it is possible. It's something to be mindful of every now and then usually the problem that we'll have is see these stacks over here that are high. I can see into this tray, tippy toes.
I can see into this tray. I can't see physically into this tray. So as I'm feeding these once they start to get water gel crystals, we're gonna take these and lower them down to where we can see inside of them. But what's definitely possible. Is, let's say this top one had a low performing bin. For some reason, it could be clogged with water gel crystals.
And then that bin is just a loss because it's not, you don't want to take moldy meal worms and keep those going through the system. So I'd say we maybe get a handful of those every few months. It's rare. It's not worth changing the process or having to visually look in every single one of these every single day.
So I love the French fry cutter idea. Genius. Yeah. I I built this table. So I mentioned it's on wheels. It's got a, a simple pallet here underneath. I, I want to go, you know, I want, I'm a vertical space guy, right? Insect farming. So I want to trim this down to where it's, you know, a flat piece of wood, but I had a pallet plywood is ridiculously expensive right now.
So this works for now. We'll optimize that when the time comes. But we've got a bunch of tools down there. You can see some of the shifters actually don't use many of those. Some of those are spares. We've got my seat or one of my many seats, the bucket that white bucket there that red feeder bucket that we use for all sorts of collecting and shaking and whatnot as just some trays.
And then yeah, I wanted the, the processing of the food somewhere where I could easily get to it. And also I don't want it in the way. Right. So like I attached it originally like this, I'm gonna bang my knee on that every single time I go around this. And so simple system here, it's on a hinge. This, this guy I'm gonna hold it up with the camera and close this.
Let me show you this real quick. I do have a latch down here. So when I am cutting, I can latch it and then it stays static. And then when I'm done, I unlatch it. And then I just turn it like this. It pushes that above this falls down, the screw here is just to stop the wood. And then this doesn't open until you lift the wood and come this way.
Simple solution. That way it's stored in there easily accessible. It's it's not a pain in the neck to have to pull this thing out. That's what I want. I want ease of accessibility because then you're more likely to do the task. What I found is if this was somewhere else, right? Like if I put it on the other side of the building, I've gotta walk all the way over there, get it out, crank it, come back in feed.
And maybe I'm short. Maybe I'm needing more. I have to go back and do it again. So that's one of the solutions I, I threw together to try to make things easier for all of us here. Mary. Thanks, hun. You are very welcome. You are very welcome. Okay. Time check. I'm just chatting away here. All right. We technically have 14 minutes left.
So if anybody has any questions, anything they want to talk about please keep throwing questions out there. I need a quick drink of water. So I'm gonna head back out this way.
It is a gorgeous day outside, as you can see.
All right. Quick drink of water. Just water. It's not that time of day yet here. Anyway. All right,me again. Let's lemme take my water in here. Awesome questions guys. I love it. I love it. If anybody, if I missed anybody, please, please, please tackle me with a direct message or tag me.
Mealworms are us. Welcome. Julie, how much brand do you putin with your beetles? One scoop, which isn't helpful. Right. I wanna say it's like 500 grams ish of wheat brand. We found, I know the bowl that I use. We found that that amount, 1500 beetles and 500 grams of wheat brand, that amount was it's good for the beetles.
Right? Cuz it's not too thick. I don't wanna say it's only like that thick three quarters of an inch maybe. And so they the have the opportunity to borrow down, lay on the bottom, lay on the wheat brand, et cetera. And so it's not too much for us to have to sift out. The beetles do eat a little bit of that brand.
But not, they're not ravenous about it, like the larva R and then we found that that 500 grams was enough to get just about to harvest. So we might increase that a little bit. I need to optimize the beetle process though, cuz it's just taking too much time right now. It takes about three hours to do beetle swap over there with 80 plus trays, which is we're trying to aim for higher than that.
And so I need a more optimal way of swapping those trays. And once I can do that, I think we'll probably add in, we'll make it an inch of brand instead of three quarters of an inch. That's probably what I should get three quarters of an inch, not 500 grams, cuz that's meaningless depending on what tray you're in.
So that, that three quarter of an inch, I would look at increasing that to one inch so that the brand for the larva lasts longer and gets us closer to that harvest period so that once we get no brand in that bin, it processes very fast, right? The frass stuffs out really fast. The larvas separate very quickly when there's brand in there, it just Gunks it up.
It slows it down. It takes a lot longer. So that's what we're gonna try to do there. How do you prepare your brand before using let's take a trip over to the deep freeze. I just put some in today, we switch around again, as gorgeous as my mug is. We're here for the mealworm stuff, not for me. So this is the deep freeze straightforward, deep freeze.
This came from a big box store. It's a Whirlpool. I don't have any specific brand. I recommend I got it because it was on sale. Whirlpool is generally a good brand. So I ran with it. I have four bags in there, so it's deep enough. Oh, what is that? Three and a half feet. It's deep enough to put four 50 pound bags of wheat brand in.
So I put that in here. Deep freeze it for no less than 48 hours. I am very strict about this because I do not want mights bugs, other things in the farm. They are a pain to get rid of. So we'll deep freeze it and then we will pull it out. That's what these guys are here. Let them warm up a little bit so that when we take 'em into the farm today, they don't create a bunch of condensation and moisture and whatnot.
But they'll go into the farm into a 55 gallon drum or straight away to get used today in any of the processing or tomorrow that we need to do. So that's how we prepare the brand. Very simple and straightforward. It needs to be a deep freeze, do not use a fridge freezer. So this guy here, even on the coldest setting, it's not gonna get zero degrees.
I don't think generally your home freezers don't, you know, fridge freezer combo. Don't do that. At least the ones I've seen, maybe they're fancy ones that do nowadays. I mean, it's 20, 22, right. But aim for is zero degrees Fahrenheit which is what this guy gets to so good stuff. And what we'll do, like that's literally all we do to prepare it.
So it comes out. It's been frozen deep freeze for two, two days, 48 hours. And then we come in and I, I do try to quote unquote, protect my brand. So I don't want to bring it in here and put it on the floor. This is a live operating facility and so mealworms can get on the floor. Beetles can get on here.
We had a cleaner crew breakout in the last farm. We're still dealing with some of that here. So every now and then we find a cleaner crew on the floor. That's why a lot of this stuff is on rollers, just for accessibility, but also to, to keep things from just going up into all the workspaces. Here's what I came in here for.
Well, see, there's a beetle right there. What are you doing, buddy? So I will put my brand inside of a 55 gallon stainless steel. I don't know if it's stainless steel. I shouldn't say that it's a 55 gallon food grade drum. So this had some sort of oil in it. Cooking oil from the Quaker oats place up north of here.
I've had this barrel for several years. I think I have, yeah, 2019. So this is an old, old barrel. But's still good on the inside. And it's on rollers here so that we can move around where we need to, and it keeps things from getting in the brand while it's in the farm. So simple containers are also usable, smaller ones.
I mean, so there's a I think that's a Vitamix. It was on sale. So I grabbed one of those. And then one of these guys from born feed it's just a simple, you know, plastic, it's got a lid on it and it just stores things to keep bugs out of it
and reduce any potential issues. All right. Let's turn things back around here. More questions, more questions. I love it. Da da best result is 48 days until ready norms. And in day 60 we see the first pupae best results. 48 days 48 days is a month and a half. That's awesome. Okay. There's the goal, right?
thank you for your help. You're welcome. You're welcome. Struggling with the system of dis distribution of moisture sources. We have 120 trays with beetles, Yaa. Yeah. So let's let me read some more of these. We were soaking wheat brand. Yes. I did that once as well, so I would soak the wheat brand and then put that in there for them to then chomp on.
Right. That's a quick way to do it. The water jug crystals, honestly. I take a handful of those and toss 'em in. So those 80 bins of beetles right now probably take me less than five minutes. So extrapolate that up to 120, you're probably looking at less, less than 10. As long as you have access to those trays too, that's the other thing is you know, space right now is a luxury for us because we have the option to have those beetles exposed like that.
In the old building we had some scenarios where we had to kind of stack things and put them where we couldn't reach them. And what that tended to do is we would not feed those. You know, if, if we got behind, if we had issues, if we forgot they were back there they wouldn't get fed because they were locked away essentially.
And it was work to reorganize and move things around or we just didn't have the space. So if you're, if, if you have that, everything accessible obviously is gonna take less time.
I bake mine. It's a pain. Yes. Baking is a pain, but every time you think I don't really wanna do this today, it's too much of a pain in the neck. Just remember my. If you've had mites go back to that feeling you had when you saw, when you saw them and you panicked and you had to worry about how to get rid of them.
If you haven't had mites, congratulations, but you will get mites if you're slacking off on taking care of your weand. So keep keep rolling. Thanks again, hun. You're welcome, Mary. Thanks for coming. I've had them twice. Yes.
So remember that feeling when you don't wanna do your wheat brand? That's what I always remember when I don't wanna pick up 55 or 50, 50 pound bags of wheat brand and take 'em out the freezer and put 'em in the freezer.
It's gonna, ah, but I remember distinctly the last time I had it, I knelt down and they were on the wheat brand barrel that's in there, cuz those mites can climb anything. And so I looked down and I saw everything moving. I was like, oh my God. So that every time I don't wanna do it, I think of that picture in my head.
Split P powder. Yes. So split P powder for those of you that haven't seen that before in the group you take split P split peas. If you can get dried split peas, that's what I do. I have a grinder and I, I do that on my own cause I buy it in bulk. So I'm prepared in case it ever happens, but split P powder or flower, depending on how it's branded is detrimental to the health of the grain mites.
And so that's a fantastic thing. The last time it happened in the old farm it hasn't happened here yet. Knock on all the wood you can find the last time it happened it's, it's not harmful to the meal worms. They don't enjoy eating split P flowers. So it's not like you can just use that as your substrate.
They they'll eat it, but it's not their favorite thing. Right. It's kinda like us eating vegetables. Yeah. Okay. But it's not really what we, any of us wanna do. So I actually take it and I will throw it on the ground and you need to get the flour the actual you know, hard P isn't something that's gonna be.
Beneficial from a cost perspective to just throw around. So it needs to be ground up. So you have a coffee grinder, something like that. I have a bigger grinder, grind it up into flour and then use that have it on hand. I have some, if you get stuck and can't find it, any of the stores near you just reach out to me and, and I'll send you some, what da da the, the wheat brand soaking the wheat brand.
I had a what's that thing called you mix up paint, paint, mixer, right? The paddle or whatever. I took one of those and a drill and put wheat brand and water. And I would add a little bit of water cuz I I'd only tested it for a little while. So I would add a little bit of water and mix it up, add a little bit of water and mix it up right until it got to kind of a pasty kind of consistency.
And then I would take it and put it in DNCE. And it was a very economical way from a cost perspective, buying things but not economical from a labor time perspective. Until you get in a, in a rhythm where you can make a consistent amount of like. one pound of brand to X ounces of water. I don't know what the ratio is.
But once you get into that rhythm and have a good system in place, you know, I would, I would definitely
try it out if you could let us know how that goes. I think that a lot of people could probably benefit from a, a different way of getting moisture to their, to their colony.
Lots of good comments here. I'm gonna do a time check. I feel like I'm meeting close. Yeah, we've got a couple minutes left, so I'll go through the ones that are here. I do have a little bit extra time, so if there's more questions, please throw 'em out there. Just to close out. Cause I know it's the top of the hour.
Some folks might be heading out. This will be posted in the Facebook group. The recording will be there. Facebook does have the comments so you can see those anything that I didn't get to or missed. I'll go through and comment on those respond in the next 24 hours. And then I'll throw this up on my YouTube page as well.
So it'll be out there. I was freezing in a regular home freezer. Like you said, not to use that's it doesn't get cold enough. Which like, you know, some folks don't even know, you know, deep freeze is a different temperature, so no worries. That's what we, we learn, we experience we share and then somebody else isn't gonna make that mistake.
Right, Heather aren't the crystals made of polymers. Yes. Does this affect the creatures consuming the mealworm? No, I haven't seen any reports of it yet. I haven't seen any data showing that it adversely impacts anything downstream the, the testing that needs to happen. Once I can find a lab that can do it, what I'd like to do is feed the meal arms.
And then like my target market, most of the folks that I, that I deal. I have advanced warning when they want their meal arms. And so if you guys remember the Stanford or Harvard study about the, the mealworms eating styrofoam they found that after 48 hours, most of the breakdown you know, they, they were able to eat it, thrive on it, survive on it.
They were fine on the styrofoam. And most of the chemicals from the styrofoam were out of their system within 48 hours. After 72 hours, they were completely gone. And so my hypothesis right now, and because I've not heard anything to the contrary is that whatever you feed those meal worms within 72 hours, it's out of their system.
And so that's why a lot of the reptile folks, when they order their insects, they have to gut load them when they get them, because whatever they've eaten within the last three days is gone. So if you're trying to get more calcium into a reptile, they're gonna deal with that bef right before they want to feed that to their animal.
Right. Because the mealworms are getting rid of that. So then the next question becomes what's the impact from, from the frass perspective and we need more studies, more data. I'm happy to, to share some frass. If anybody knows anyone that can test that. But that's more stuff we do need to find out.
I sell live mealworms only. I see that question. Shannon. So you sell live mealworms we're at the top of the hour. So if anybody does need to go, thank you very much for coming again. I'm gonna keep going here just for a little while. Get these things closed out. Really appreciate it though. I'll get another one scheduled for next week.
I'll pick a different day different time so we can try to mix it up and hope to see you then Shannon. So you sell live only. I hear a little bit about how to dry dehydrate for people who feed them to wild birds. Curious as if my kitchen stove is okay to versus buying a dehydrate. I currently only sell live mealworms.
Yes. I have a dehydrate it's it's over on the other side of the building just in case and basically that's my backup plan. If I am producing so many mealworm. They're either gonna pate and go to waste, cuz I don't need more beetle bin. Like I don't wanna go above a threshold. And so if I get to that point and I'm not selling those live mealworms, then I will dehydrate them.
The problem is that most folks in the United States cannot compete with overseas prices for mealworms dried mealworms. There are a couple companies that are selling us mealworms route 66 I'll plug them they're they're south of me. They're in Missouri. They produce dried mealworm. I've never tried them or bought from them.
But I've interacted with them. They're good folks to interact with. So route 66, if you want dried mealworm for the other part of your question though to, to dry or dehydrate them a kitchen oven is perfectly fine. What will very likely happen is that they will turn black. So in an oven even on the lowest setting, I wanna say mine's like 1 75.
So if I dehydrate things in there the dehydrate meal arms, they will turn black, which. If you're gonna use 'em for yourself, no big deal. But if you're gonna try to take those and sell them, your end consumer is gonna look at that and go, is there something wrong here? Right? Like the physical view of it just isn't aesthetically pleasing versus the mealworms, the dried mealworms that folks are used to buying that still have that golden Amber mealworm color because they're using a microwave or a dehydrator on an industrial scale, deep freeze or, sorry.
What's it called? Not deep freeze where you freeze it. I don't know why I can't remember that word, but I have not used an actual dehydrator the dehydrator that I have like the home dehydrator, the one that I have, the, the slots are too big and the main alarms would fall through. So I haven't tried doing that before.
I only put a tablespoon in each small tray and they were gone in a week. Next time. I'll make video and send it to you. Awesome. Thank you. Freeze dryer. Yes. Thank you, Lynn. I had it right. A freeze freeze dryer. Yes. Perfect. Yeah, everybody was like it's freeze, freeze dried, man. Come on. I love it.
Leo affiliation. Okay. I gotta goo I gotta Google that, that looks like a fancy word. Leo affiliation.
Is it ization?
Wow. That is a fan ization or freeze drying is a process in which waters are moving product, frozen place in their vacuum. So everybody went to freeze dried and you pulled up the fancy word, man. That's li O I'm. I'm finding it as L Y O P H I L I Z a T I O N. ization. Wow, very cool. Ooh, I got another one.
Ization or cryo deification. Yeah, freeze drying. Sounds a lot easier to say. I have a freeze dryer and I'm off grid solar. So it cost next. Now can be to produce a freeze dried product. Ooh, start raising meal and drying them and selling us produced, raised dehydrated or freeze dried mealworm and tell everyone that it is us produced.
Because those are few and far between currently. I know that there are some pretty large organizations just to give everybody a heads up. There are some pretty large organizations that are moving into the dried mealworm business. And they are gonna produce tons of dehydrated mealworms, not just.
Live mealworms, tons of dehydrated mealworms. And when you dehydrate a mealworm, you're pulling out the moisture, which is about 60% of a mealworm. So that weight volume of tons of dehydrated is huge. Huge. I have three and a half pounds in the freezer ready to go in the freeze dryer. That's awesome. I would love to hear and see more about that.
Like I, I've never tried it. I know max one of the admins here, he's got a freeze dryer. But I haven't ever seen, seen that happen before. It'd be really awesome if you could. I don't, I don't know if you're willing to share an outline, but if you could go through like, here's my solar system, here's what it took up to.
It powers this freeze dryer. Here's the mealworm farm. I would nerd out on that very much, so. Very much. So. All right. I'm gonna check things out here. Okay. I think I got everybody recently here Lazar that I'm gonna be stuck on that word for a while. I love that. I love it. All right. dehydration also robs the food product of nutrition, freeze rang, retains most nutrition value.
Yes. A hundred percent, a hundred percent agree with that. Alright, well, we'll go ahead and, and close out then. So just a reminder, this will get posted out on the Facebook group. I'll make up, make the next event for next week. I'm trying to think if I have anything going on during the week.
I don't think so. So it should be pretty open. And I will try to remember to send out a, a reminder the day before I saw the reminder yesterday and I thought today's not the day I'm doing that tomorrow. And I forgot I was supposed to remind everybody yesterday, so I will take care of that. Thank you guys very much for joining.
If there's anything else that you're curious about or you wanna see on one of these sessions demonstration or something like that, we can always try to figure out how to do that. So send me any suggestions or feedback that you've got really appreciate everybody taking time out of their day to come join me and have fun with meal worms.
Thank you very much, Lynn. You're welcome. Thank you. Thank you everybody. Have an awesome day. We'll talk to you soon.