Cephalaria transsylvanica-Based Flower Strips as Potential Food Source for Bees durin

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    Cephalaria transsylvanica-Based Flower Strips as Potential Food Source for Bees during Dry Periods in European Mediterranean Basin Countries
    The introduction of sown wildflower strips favours the establishment of pollinator communities, with special reference to social Apoidea. Here, we evaluated the late summer flowering Cephalaria transsylvanica as suitable species for strips providing food for pollinators in paucity periods. C. transsylvanica showed no particular requirements in terms of seed germination and growth during summer. This plant had an excellent potential of self-seeding and competitiveness towards weed competitors. C. transsylvanica prevented from entomophilous pollination showed inbreeding depression, with a decrease in seed-set and accumulation of seed energy reserves. However, C. transsylvanica did not appear to be vulnerable in terms of pollination biology since it had a wide range of pollinators including bees, hoverflies and Lepidoptera. C. transsylvanica was visited mainly by honeybees and bumblebees and these latter pollinators increased their visits on C. transsylvanica flowers during early autumn. This plant may be useful as an abundant source of pollen during food paucity periods, such as autumn. We proposed C. transsylvanica for incorporation into flower strips to be planted in non-cropped farmlands in intensively managed agricultural areas as well as in proximity of beehives. The latter option may facilitate the honeybees collecting pollen and nectar for the colony, thereby ensuring robustness to overcome the winter season.
    http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0093153