Re: Do swarrms sometimes change their mind
What Tom said.
What you saw is totally typical when the old queen cannot fly. Takes the swarm maybe an hour before they realise she is not with them & then they return to the original hive.
During the swarming attempt the old queen is chased very aggressively to get her to launch into the air and if she cannot she is sometimes killed. If she is not killed, she will be killed over the next few days during further attempts at swarming. The hive will then swarm properly once queen cells hatch & they can take a virgin with them.
In your situation, best plan would be to make several splits with a queen cell or two each, whether or not you can find the old queen. That's if you catch the hive before it has swarmed proper. Pretty certain there will be queen cells in there if you look hard enough.
"Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker