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OpenLDAP does not close connections to backend LDAP directory

I've been doing load testing with open ldap receiving one to two 
search requests every second on the same connection.  slapd in turn
opens a connection to the backend directory for each query.
I've continually lowered the timeout on the backend directory and 
it is now 5s.
Further to this, there is a "ping" from another system every 2s that
properly opens and closes the connection.  From this I am able to
monitor the file descriptor number increasing for each request during
the load test, but remaining constant when idle.  Ultimately, with
a constant load, I will hit the descriptor table size exceeded message.

I'd prefer to keep high timeouts and simply have slapd reuse the 
connections to the backend or close them when it receives the response.

Is there a way of doing this that I've missed? Or is this by design?
I'd prefer not to modify the code if possible.