The first batch of nanitics tend to range from 20 to 50, depending on the health and fertility of the queen, as well as the founding setup.
You can start to feed your young colony once the first workers appear restless and in search of something (food, or an exit). From the time the very first nanitic (first worker) emerges, wait about 1 week before offering your young colony their first meal.
For the first week after workers enclose (30-50 workers), I will feed young colonies cut up mealworms and Cricket parts once every 3-4 days by placing the food directly into the test tubes. Food that remains unconsumed overnight to be removed to avoid mites and mold.
Above and below are videos of a young colony only 4 days apart, after they had consumed an entire gut loaded mealworm. See the obvious difference in brood size and liveliness of the queen!
Feeding of young colonies after they reach 80-100 workers:
once your young colony reaches 80-100 workers, they need to start to “forage” on their own. At this stage, feeding can be done by placing the founding test tube in a tub of shallow substrate (reptisand, or burnt soil). I also like to wrap the founding test tube in aluminium foil to avoid light and temperature disturbance to the young colony.
Minors will leave the founding test tube to explore the new terrain and procure good as and when necessary.
Young colonies that are well fed grow exponentially, reaching at least 120-200 workers within a month after the first nanitics enclose.
Around this time, you will also see the first majors emerge.
Once the population reaches a sizeable 200-300 workers (earlier if live prey is fed) the first supermajors will enclose.
Healthy colonies are always hungry and will accept food non-stop. If well fed, they will quickly reach 500-800 workers within 2 months from the first worker enclosing if well fed and cared for. Soon they will outgrow the founding test tube and the initial outworld,and a proper formicarium or near space will need to be provided.
Picture of a founding test tube packed with workers and brood (at least 300!!), and in very dire need of a new formicarium.
Or if you’re on a tight Budget, large plastic tubs work perfectly fine too.
4 month old colony in a large soft plastic tub- dirt setup.