This countertop hive lets you grow your own mealworms -- and then eat them

HARVEST©Livinfarms (1)Livin FarmsLivin Farms’ Insect Hive.

Forget farm to table. With this hive, you can grow edible worms right in your own kitchen.

Developed by Livin Farms in Hong Kong, the mealworm hive ostensibly offers a sustainable alternative to meat.

“We want to empower people to know where their food comes from and grow it in their own home,” Katharina Unger, the founder and CEO of Livin Farms, tells Tech Insider.

The Livin Farms Insect Hive is part of a larger food industry effort
to cut factory farms’ impact on the planet, which are responsible for 18% of greenhouse gases. Edible insects are one way to ameliorate animal impact on the planet. As opposed to animal farming, which uses 40% of the Earth’s land surface, the two-foot-tall hive can fit on a small counter.

Mealworms are also nutritious. They pack the same protein as beef and the same amino acid profile as tofu. Unger says worms taste “nutty,” and that you can add them to soups or even make burger patties out of them.

The insects work their way down the hive, from the top tray to the bottom one. The climate-controlled system has fans and filters, which stop the fishy smell and make sure the worms can’t escape.

LIFESTAGES3(c)LivinfarmsLivin FarmsThe life cycle of a mealworm.

Once the worms go through the process a few times, you can harvest them in all six drawers simultaneously. The whole process, which makes between 1 to 2 cups of worms, takes about a week.

Here’s how it works:

Each hive comes with a starter kit, which includes pupae, or insects ready to hatch into beetles. First, you add the pupae to the top drawer. These then transform into beetles that mate and lay eggs.

The eggs then hatch and fall through the perforated floor onto the next level, where they generate worms.

Next is feeding time. You can feed the worms oats, carrots, applies, or any other food scraps.

Once the worms form, you press the button on the side to vibrate the hive. This separates the worms from waste. The dirt also works as a plant fertiliser, Unger says.

The worms again fall to the last drawer, which chills them.

At this point, Unger says you should freeze the worms overnight before you boil them or mix them into recipes.

Some of the leftover worms will transform into pupae in the last drawer. You place the pupae back into the top drawer, and the whole life cycle starts again.

In under a week, the Livin Farms Kickstarter has raised over $US40,000. If the company meets its $US100,000 goal, it will start shipping the hives by November 2016.Early birds can preorder now it for $US500, but the full retail cost will be $US700.

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