Document 541

Craiters: 17 - E Wasps' Nest

Author(s): Alexander Fenton

Copyright holder(s): Alexander Fenton


For some rizzon ir anidder, we ay spak aboot 'bees' bykes' bit it wis 'wasps' nests', as if ey deserved fully mair respect. Ere's degrees o respect for aa craiters. If ye cam on a foggy bees' byke in a mossy bank, ye didna hesitate tae powk it wi a stick till ye'd frichtent aff e richtfae indwallers - ere wisna aften a lot o em - tae get oot e wee knottie o kaim an get a taste o e sweet honey, fit though it wis jist a wee tick. Ere wis a time, lang seen afore sugar wis richt kent o, fin fowk wid gang aboot gaitherin even e honey fae foggy bees. Bit in e hierarchy o respect, bees at fowk keepit in ruskies an hives wis a different maitter aathegither. Ey hid naething tae dee wi bykes ir nests. Fin ey swarmt, ey cd be richt veecious. Ye'd tae rowe yersel weel in yer veil an puff awa wi yer sulphur reek tae get em skeppit again. They got respect aa richt. Bit e maist respect gings tae wasps.

An aal freen o mine, an Edinburgh lady, hid tae move till a different hoose fin her een wis teen ower for e biggin o an extension till e Royal Edinburgh Infirmary. She hid a big gairden wi a widden shed in't, complete wi a cat-hole in e door. She speert if I'd like it, since she hid nae mair eese for't, sae I took it tae bits tae get it shiftit an cairtit it hame on e reef rack o an aal Rover I hid at e time, makkin siveral journeys. I set it up again at e tap o ma gairden, in anaith a haathorn tree. E reef hid tae be covert wi new tarred felt, an in anaith e plankin o e reef wis a kinna plywid linin, leavin a spacie o maybe twa inches.

E shed's gaan deen a bittie noo, bit it's heen its history. A cat files taks up residence in't, usin a cat-hole at's ay ere. It leaves a catty stink inside bit seein e shed's nae used a lot except as a store for orrals, it disna mak. Inoo ere's a new development. E local fox at trails across e back gairden in e gloamin hid been tryin tae quarry oot a hole in anaith e door, though e grun's gey hard. I'd fain let it go aheid bit I'd niver hear e eyn o't, an forby, e feedin o fox pups wid mak a bit o a sotter. Sae I laid a big brick in e middle o e scrape, an e fox his gien up e unequal battle.

Bit fit I wis gaan tae say wis at ae ear a gang o wasps took up eir heidquarters atween e plywid an e reef. Ye couldna hae gotten em oot withoot dismantlin e linin, an nae wye ye cd dee at withoot gettin stung. Sae e shed hid a simmer's holiday, naebody geed intill't, though I did tak e odd chance tae open e door an hear e bizzin, bit a buddy disna bide lang amon sic neebers. Simmer wore on an winter cam, an shortly wi a touch o frost ere wis silence. I took aff e linin syne, an lo an behold there wis e bonniest range o flattent kaim, shapit tae fit e space, at ye cd iver imagine. It wis a fyow days' winner. I pat back e linin, aifter shiftin e kaim, bit e waspies niver cam back. I offert e kaim till e Museum, bit oh ey’d enyeuch specimens tae keep em gaan.

Anither time, ere wis an eruption o wee reed spiders inside e shed door, up aboot e tap hinge, in e middle o a jungle o wobs. Ey cam oot o a big fite cocoon, an spread oot fae't like sunbeams. I'd ay a likit tae ken fit kinna craiters ey'd been, bit like mony anither thing in life, ye niver jist come upon e richt answer.

Ae simmer, nae e same een, I noticet ere wis an aafa wasps aboot again. Gin ye kept yer back door open on gweed days ey’d be intill e hoose, sure's fate, as aften as no in twas if nae threes. Ye cd ay tell be e different bum fither it wis a wasp ir a honey bee. Ye cd tell if ey were roused tee, though maybe it was fowk gettin fleggit an flappin aboot at rouset em. Syne naething for't bit tae tak a faalt-up Scotsman till em, battin em oot o e air an watchin faar ey landit, or aan giein em eir quietus against e windae glaiss. Bit maistly I wis able tae manoeuvre em intill e open eyn o a big spunk box. Naebody smokit in e hoose, an e fire wisna aften lit, sae e spunks wis only half deen aifter a lot o ears, an at left space enyeuch for a jyle till I cd get till e door. E box is gettin e waar o e weer noo throwe bein used as a wasp an bee trap. Ye'd get e openin ower e craiterie on e windae, slide e lid shut, takin care nae tae squasht, syne opent e box again at e door tae let it flee. It ay gies ye a decent Christian feelin, even if naething else dis, tae be savin e life o a beastie.

Ae day fin I cam hame I wis tell't in nae uncertain terms at ere wis a wasps’ nest in e hedge. Trimmin o e hedge hid been gaan on an at eence e high pitcht buzz o warnin an it wis lucky naebody’d got stung. Aifter I’d been maitit, I geed tae hae a look. It wisna a big nest, nae then. Ey’d jist startit tae mak it, biggin’t roon a finger-sized branch tae gie’t a gweed haad. It wis like an upside doon broony grey ingin, a smaa baaie, wi wasps wirkin awa at layin mair stuff on till e leafs ey were formin een on tap o e ither, fleein back an fore wi material jist like reglar workmen, though I doot ey widna ay be knockin aff for piece-times.

I dinna ay dee fit I’m tell’t, an I didna get redd o’t, an I got a lot o pleasher oot o watchin’t growin bigger ilky day. Ye cd see e wasps rovin oot fae't, maybe landin on e widden seat o e wee lad's swing an chowin awa at e safter bits o wid tae get cellulose, syne fleein back tae big it on till e hinmist grey section ey'd been wirkin at. Fin e young lad cam roon tae see's, I'd tak im oot till e gairden an haad im up tae see es fairlie. E wis gey teen wi't, bit e ithers wis aye squallachin at’s tae be canny an at made im nervous. Weel, e nest grew an grew, an wir neebers cam tae ken o't tee, for e hedge wis shared een.

Ere's naebody likes tae be stung, an I'm amon em. Eence fin I wis a loon, I wis playin some hidin game in a girse park, an a bee got me jist ahin e lug. It's nae a gweed place onywye, for ere's nae a lot o room tae alloo for swallin. Though it wis sair, I thocht little enyeuch aboot it an did naething aboot it. I geed tae ma bed fine at nicht, an begod neesht mornin fin I tried tae rise an get ma clyes on, afore gaan doon e stairs for ma brakfist, ere wis naething I cd dee. Ma muscles hid a kinna seized up. At lat's air e skweel for e day, onywye, an it wore aff till I wis aa richt come nicht, bit I fairly got a fleg. Sae I'm aafa canny wi bees an wasps, though I winna say I’m feert at em. I jist fin em aafa interestin craiters wi eir skeely wyes o wirkin. Sae 'Lat-a-be an lat-a-be', as e Harray man said till e lobster, an if I'm peaceable wi em, maistly ey’re peaceable wi me. Es wis e principle I wis tryin tae let e wee lad see, as we steed afore e nest, wasps takin past wir lugs, gaan an comin, files hoverin a bit tae check on’s, bit nae deein ony hairm. Ye can tell, onywye, fae eir bizz, if ey’re in an ill teen.

E days wore on an e nest swallt, as aye e idder ring wis eekit ontill ‘t. If ye tappit e branch, ere wis a richt chorus inside an ye’d tae be ready tae clear oot fin e fit-sodgers poppit eir noses oot o e doorie. Ye began tae winner foo lang ey’d stick at it, an foo big e nest wid get. I’d tak a wanner oot twa ir three times a day, fair teen up wi em, an as a psychologist wid say, gettin ‘emotionally involved’.

Ah weel, we aa geed awa for a lang wik-eyn, I dinna min faar till or fit for, an got back on e Monday nicht. Aifter a lang drive ye’re glaid enyeuch tae settle doon, an it wis neeshy nicht ir I thocht tae hae a confab wi ma waspies. It wis funny ere wis nae soon as I steppit ower e gairden bed ontill a flat steen I’d putten doon as a viewin platform. I drew a branch back fae e front o’t, gey canny. Still nae soon. Nae doot aboot it, ere wis naething ere. I could see nae reason, till I peepit roon e side o e nest an saa a hole in’t near e boddem. I doot ere’d been some ethnic cleansin, wi an antrin puffie o gas. I niver heard a wird aboot it, an I niver speert – bit wisn’t it jist an aafa peety?

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Craiters: 17 - E Wasps' Nest. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 24 May 2024, from

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Information about Document 541

Craiters: 17 - E Wasps' Nest


Text audience

Adults (18+)
General public
Informed lay people
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition Wordprocessed
Year of composition 1994
Word count 1736

Text medium


Text publication details

Publisher Tuckwell Press
Publication year 1995
Place of publication East Linton
ISBN/ISSN 1898410739
Edition First
Part of larger text
Contained in Craiters. Or Twenty Buchan Tales

Text setting

Other Putting the dialect on record, Aberdeenshire

Text type

Prose: fiction
Prose: nonfiction
Short story


Author details

Author id 27
Forenames Alexander
Surname Fenton
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1920
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Academic/Writer/Editor
Place of birth Shotts
Region of birth Lanark
Birthplace CSD dialect area Lnk
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Edinburgh
Region of residence Edinburgh
Residence CSD dialect area Edb
Father's occupation Shoemaker
Father's place of birth Aberdeen
Father's region of birth Aberdeen
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Abd
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Housewife\Crofter
Mother's place of birth Keith
Mother's region of birth Banff
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Bnf
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes At work
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes At home and wherever possible