The LDAP backend to slapd(8) is not an actual database; instead it acts as a proxy to forward incoming requests to another LDAP server. While processing requests it will also chase referrals, so that referrals are fully processed instead of being returned to the slapd client.
Sessions that explicitly Bind to the back-ldap database always create their own private connection to the remote LDAP server. Anonymous sessions will share a single anonymous connection to the remote server. For sessions bound through other mechanisms, all sessions with the same DN will share the same connection. This connection pooling strategy can enhance the proxy’s efficiency by reducing the overhead of repeatedly making/breaking multiple connections.
The ldap database can also act as an information service, i.e. the identity of locally authenticated clients is asserted to the remote server, possibly in some modified form. For this purpose, the proxy binds to the remote server with some administrative identity, and, if required, authorizes the asserted identity.