Summary: Summary. Task partitioning is the name given to the pheno-
menon in which a piece of work is divided among two or
more workers, such as the partitioning of the collection of a
load of forage between a forager and a storer or transporter.
This study 1) reviews empirical data concerning the occur-
rence of task partitioning in insect societies with the general
aim of drawing broad conclusions about its prevalence and
diversity, and 2) considers the potential costs and benefits of
task partitioning. The data show that task partitioning occurs
in many species, with examples in ants, bees, wasps, and
termites. The general impression is that it is an important and
widespread feature of work organisation in insect societies.
Nearly all examples concern foraging. There is much varia-
tion on the main theme. For example, in the number of inter-
secting cycles (2, 3 linear, 3 all interlocking), where transfer
occurs (at the nest, at the forage site, on the trail back to the
nest), whether transfer is direct or indirect (liquids such as
nectar, water, and honeydew are always transferred directly
whereas solids are transferred both directly and indirectly).
Task partitioning is always subject to time costs. Benefits