Home Made Worm Ben VS Worm Motel

by John M. Simmonds
(Richmond, Virginia)

I have been growing worms in home made bens for a few years. Last year my wife bought me a worm hotel which I am struggling with. My first question is "My motel worms are creating compost but seem to be living along the sides and corners of the trays while in my bens the worms are scattered throughout the container? Is this normal?

thanks, John

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May 28, 2018
Struggling With Worm Hotel?
by: Pauly

Hello John,

I'm not sure what system you are referring to when you say you have a "worm hotel" or "worm motel". You also mention "trays".

So I'm just going to assume you have some type of a plastic tray system.

You can culture composting worms in just about anything. However, many different variables can affect how the worms or microbes react within the system.

Here are some criteria for you to follow to make sure the worms are getting everything they need to thrive within your system.

1. Cool - Maintain the right temperature for your species.

2. Moisture - Worms need an adequate amount of moisture so they won't dry out. Plus, this allows them to move about without threat of loosing bodily fluids.

3. Darkness - Worms ARE light sensitive and need to remain out of ANY form of bright lights. Absolute darkness is preferred.

4. Food - Sometimes the foods you place in can make all the difference in the world in a worm bin. If something gets out of whack in a homemade plastic tub, there's room for worms to move to a safer place, not so much in a tray system (depending on the size of course).

This could be one of the reasons why the worms are hugging the sides. However, it could also be the other elements we're talking about.

It's very important that you are adding plenty of moist carbon in the form of shredded paper or cardboard. This allows air to move throughout the bedding for proper oxygen which can lead to a host of issues if air can't circulate properly.

5. Air - This leads us to proper oxygen flow again. Adding the carbon creates air pockets that allow oxygen, carbon dioxide, methane gas, etc. to vent properly, just like in nature with the many forms of dead carbon on the ground.

Worms can still eat kitchen scraps you place in (which is STILL important as it adds beneficial nitrogen), but it should only be in small amounts and in one or two areas, preferably under the bedding or castings a couple of inches.

Too much nitrogen will plug the air flow, lock in moisture, cause the food to become anaerobic, and create high amounts of acidity. This can also lead to worms hugging the walls of a container or worm system.

If you'd like a better breakdown of these key factors then please see the link below or get the Worm Farming Revolution book.


Usually the hugging of the sides of a bin indicate the worms are trying to get away from danger/lack of a favorable element or the sides posses something that the inner parts of the bin do not.

For instance, too much kitchen scraps cause the bedding to heat up, become acidic, or anaerobic. Thus the sides are cooler with a little more air flow.

I hope this give you some things to think look at within your "Hotel". Thanks for writing and best of luck to you.


Also be sure you are adding finely ground minerals to the bedding. This is great for lowering acidity too, among other great benefits.

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