I used to grow many Stapeliads when I was younger (~100 different species at one point) sourced from Tarrington, Paul Forster, random finds and the IAS. I also learnt hand pollination- Huernia and Duvalia are relatively easy with a pair of watch makers forceps (sharpened under a microscope on a wet stone), a steady hand and a keen pair of eyes. Stapelia and Larryleachia are much trickier since the receptive groove is upside down and hard to see, and the hook on the pollen body seems to be curved in an odd way.
What you are calling dormant buds are actually dormant seed pods- the flowers had already formed, opened, been pollinated, and dropped their corollas, leaving the fruit and calyx. These can then sit on the plant for ages until the seed pod begins to grow.
Lovely work growing them on from seed- I have some seedlings up from an OS source but their mix mustn't be good. They are just sitting there barely growing after a year (will have to repot soon). I'm just getting back into growing succulents again and looking forward to getting to know everyone on the boards here- you seem like a lovely bunch!