Artificial bee colony or ABC is an interesting meta-heuristic algorithm designed to solve various continuous optimization problems. However, it cannot be directly applied to solve discrete problems such as clustering of sensor nodes in the wireless sensor networks (WSNs). For this purpose, in this paper, we present a chaotic discrete version of the ABC algorithm, denoted as chaotic discrete ABC (CDABC). By using the CDABC algorithm, we propose a novel clustering protocol that can be used to organize WSNs into multiple levels of clusters to reduce their energy consumption. The main objective of this protocol is to improve WSN's lifetime by selecting appropriate nodes as cluster heads in each clustering level and reducing the energy costs of the inter-cluster and intra-cluster communications. Extensive simulations results validate the effectiveness of the proposed CDABC-based multi-level clustering protocol in improving the network lifetime.