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In wireless sensor networks, energy conserving techniques are crucial to achieve satisfying network lifetime. One effective way to significantly reduce the energy consumption of sensors is using topology management mechanism, which periodically selects some nodes to build up the forwarding backbone and allow the others to sleep (turn off the radios) for energy conservation. In this paper, we propose backbone energy efficient sleeping (BEES) management scheme, which has two attractive characteristics: (i) the backbone size is scalable with practical requirements; (ii) the backbone nodes are evenly distributed, which implies that the backbone itself is energy efficient for routing tasks. Simulation experiments evaluate the performance of BEES by comparing it with two existing topology management schemes. The results demonstrate the advantages of BEES over the existing algorithms.