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- varroa mite / varroa destructor
The varroa mite is an external parasite which attacks honey bees (Apis cerana and Apis melifera) and the disease caused by them is called varroatosis though the mite can be a carrier of several other bee diseases. The varroa mite is widely believed to be responsible for hive collapse globally and has brought about possibly the biggest changes to British beekeeping in 5,000 years.
The mite became of concern in the early 1960's, in Japan, and has since spread around the world arriving in England in 1992.
The adult varroa feeds on the bee leaving open wounds prone to infection. The mite is physically large compared to the bee, a real burden, and is equal to you having a large crab attached to you. The larval varroa lives on bee larvae inside the brood comb.
The massive damage caused to the global honey industry has resulted in extensive research and widespread experimentation in order to control the varroa mite.
Many modern bee keepers have replaced their solid hive floors with 'varroa mesh' allowing dislodged mites to fall out of the hive and not get back in.
There are several ways to treat for varroa, but non is completely effective, not yet! Oxalic acid is commonly used in winter, to kill all larvae at a time when the colony has little brood. Some favour sprinkling their bees with icing sugar to induce vigorous grooming to dislodge the mites. The bees may evolve their own defence eventually, meanwhile the search for the perfect treatment is ongoing.
In 2010 some bee populations have been found to be clear of the varroa mite including a sub-species which has lived in isolation in the desert for at least 5,000 years however ,for modern beekeepers it is a constant battle and the movement of bees and bee products, between countries, and even between bee keepers in some places, is monitored, restricted, banned and generally discouraged.
See also: 'bee hive'.
Venison is the name given to the meat of deer, but originally it was a word which once described any meat obtained by hunting, irrespective of the species.
Venison was once considered the meat of the rich.
Today, without natural predators, deer numbers are higher than they have ever been and culling is essential, so this wonderful, free range meat is now finding its way onto our plates.
- vergate / virgate / yard land
A 'vergate' is an English unit a land area measurement used outside the 'Danelaw' region and mentioned in the Doomesday Book. A 'virgate' is equal to about 30 acres but varies from region to region and can be anywhere between 15 and 35 acres.
The 'vergate' is one fourth of a 'hide' (approx. 120 acres).
- Victoria sandwich / sponge
Raspberry jam filled sponge cake, dusted with icing. In some circles the lightness of your sponge is more important than paying off your mortgage.
This cake was a favourite of Queen Victoria and was one of the early favourites of the afternoon tea, an invention of the Victorians.
See also: 'afternoon tea'.
- victuals / vituals / vittels
Victuals, pronounced "vittels", are food, supplies or provisions. It also means 'to supply' as in "to victual a ship".
Its a word hardly used these days but it was once common and is still used in military circles, particularly in the Navy.
Victuals is one of those solid Victorian words you expect to appear with 'libations' and 'promptitude'.
Latin in origin.
A supplier of victuals was known as a 'victualler' or as an 'acater' but the word 'victualler' came to mean an inn keeper and is still in use today by the 'Federation of Licensed Victuallers Association'.
About half the medieval population were Anglo-Saxon "villeins," tied by birth to their lord's land and duty bound to pay him certain dues (services and customs) in return for the use of land, the possession (not the ownership) of which was heritable.
Villeins were tenant farmers tied to the land of their birth by law, and they could not leave their masters land without his consent. They were bound to the land and sold with it into the service of whoever purchased the land.
Although the villein occupied a position between the free peasant farmer (freeman or freeholder) and a 'slave', the status between the lower orders blurred and so villeins were also known sometimes as 'serfs' or 'slaves'.
Due to the lowly status the term became derogatory and today a villain is a criminal. The villein gave his title to the 'village', the place where the villeins lived.
Villeins' civil rights gradually advanced, especially after the 1440's, and the 'yeoman farmer' status arose from them them.
See also: 'freeman' , 'yeoman farmer' and 'reeve'.
- vinegar cheese
Cheese curds made quickly, and without rennet. Vinegar is added to heated milk to make it curdle. The resulting cheese will be quite subtle in flavour and slightly rubbery, but not prone to melting, making it ideal frying/grilling or for remaining intact in hot foods.
Old recipes for this cheese call for wrapping in nettle leaves and burying in order for it to mature and take on a richer flavour and it certainly improves if kept for a while but burying it in the garden is a little extreme.
A vintner is a wine maker and is generally employed by wineries or by wine making estates.
The Vintners of London have occupied a hall situated between Upper Thames Street and the River Thames since the 15th century. The hall was an alms house for the poor of the industry. Sadly it was burnt down in the great fire of London but a new one was built in Eastbourne, which still exists and is still used by modern vintners.