Absconding is when they all leave with the primary queen.
But usually they will make swarm cells, have a primary swarm with the laying queen, and they may have more after swarms from there with one or more virgin queens.
Usually you will wind up with a virgin queen and less numbers of bees. Virgins are harder to spot.
In your scenario, you may have caught an afterswarm with a virgin(which are very flighty, and prone to leave) and she flew the coop with your bees.
Or, they just didn't like the setup and swarmed back out.
When housing swarms, you want to make the new set up as attractive as possible. Usually, they are very accepting if you place a brood frame from another hive in the new hive. Drawn frames work as do honey frames as well. They also like old comb.
After you house them, an entrance reducer with grass stuffed in front of the opening will convince them usually, to stay put.