We got a delivery of stock for the online shop recently and one of the items was the build your own insect hotel kits. So, we decided to open one up, build it ourselves as a family project. We started by laying out all of the pieces:
Everything you need to make the insect hotel is included in the box, including the tools. The wood is all pressure treated so it can be placed outside with no preparation or maintenance.
The first thing we noticed was that there aren’t any printed instructions. The instructions, such as they are, are pictured on the side of the box. They are simple enough but definitely need an adult to interpret them for younger builders.
Firstly we assembled the bottom part of the insect hotel:
This consists of the bottom, sides and a large wooden block with holes drilled through to house insects. These parts are nailed together and held together with a cross piece about two thirds of the way up. All of the nail holes are pre-tapped so it is not difficult to line everything up but it does require more than two hands to hold everything in place and hammer the nails in.
Next, we attached the back of the insect hotel:
There is a groove cut in the back of the insect hotel – it can be seen pretty clearly in the picture above. Eventually, when the insect hotel is attached to a wall, you need to put a screw in the wall (not included in the kit) and then the head of the screw passes through the wider part of the groove in the back of the insect hotel, the insect hotel slides down onto the head of the screw and will be held in place. It can be removed from the wall, if needed, by simply lifting it up off the screw again.
The roof is attached next:
It was at this point we realised we had made a mistake. There are two different lengths of nail in the build your own insect hotel kit and we didn’t pay too much attention to which nails we used as we were going along. However, when it came to attaching the roof we were only left with shorter nails, and they were not long enough to hold the roof on properly. It is therefore important to use the shorter nails when assembling the body of the insect hotel and use the longer nails for attaching the roof. Fortunately we had some other appropriate length nails in the shed and we used them instead of the short nails that we had left.
The final two steps are to populate the remaining areas for the insects to live in the insect hotel, the bamboo tubes:
and the acorns:
Glue is provided to hold the bamboo tubes in place but we found that if you wedge them into place you don’t need to use the glue at all. The acorns are behind a wire mesh that is held in place with thumb-tacks.
The finished product is very sturdy and looks great. Total construction time was about an hour and overall we found building the insect hotel to be great fun and the kids (ages 7 and 9, one boy and one girl) were able to get involved at all stages of the construction process. The highlight for both of the kids was probably getting to use a real hammer (child sized), which comes in the set.
If you’d like to give it a try, you can buy the build your own insect hotel kit in our online shop.