Helical vortices generated by flapping wings of bumblebees

Thomas Engels, Dmitry Kolomenskiy, Kai Schneider, Marie Farge, Fritz Olaf Lehmann, Jörn Sesterhenn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


High resolution direct numerical simulations of rotating and flapping bumblebee wings are presented and their aerodynamics is studied focusing on the role of leading edge vortices and the associated helicity production. We first study the flow generated by only one rotating bumblebee wing in circular motion with 45 angle of attack. We then consider a model bumblebee flying in a numerical wind tunnel, which is tethered and has rigid wings flapping with a prescribed generic motion. The inflow condition of the wind varies from laminar to strongly turbulent regimes. Massively parallel simulations show that inflow turbulence does not significantly alter the wings' leading edge vortex, which enhances lift production. Finally, we focus on studying the helicity of the generated vortices and analyze their contribution at different scales using orthogonal wavelets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number011419
JournalFluid Dynamics Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • flapping flight
  • helicity
  • turbulence
  • wavelets


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