The European Commission said it would go ahead with the ban "in the coming weeks".
Although a majority of the 27 EU countries supported the move, the decision still fell short of the "qualified majority" of member states required to make the ban automatic.
Instead the Commission is seizing on its right - after two votes of EU member states failed to clear the hurdle - to make the final decision.
– EU HEALTH AND CONSUMER COMMISSIONER TONIO BORG
Although a majority of member states now support our proposal, the necessary qualified majority was not reached. The decision now lies with the Commission.
Since our proposal is based on a number of risks to bee health identified by the European Food Safety Authority, the Commission will go ahead with its text in the coming weeks.
I pledge to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over 22 billion euros (£18.5 billion) annually to European agriculture, are protected.