Liam Kelly fired Kilmarnock ahead from the penalty spot after just four minutes when James Dayton was brought down inside the box.
St Mirren pushed for an equaliser and Bell made three fantastic saves before finally conceding to Paul McGowan's penalty midway through the second half.
There were late chances for Jim Goodwin and David Barron, but the Rugby Park side held out for a point.
A bumper travelling support of over 2,000 roared Kilmarnock on in the early stages and they were soon rewarded as referee Brian Colvin pointed at the spot after Barron fouled Dayton. Kelly stepped up to take the resulting kick and duly drilled the ball low beyond Craig Samson.
McGowan forced Bell into his first save of the match with an effort from distance, however St Mirren almost found themselves two behind when Dayton's sublime cross was met by Paul Heffernan and the striker was only denied by a wonderful stop by Samson.
The driving wind almost assisted Steven Thompson in levelling the match after Gary Teale robbed Pascali, but this time it was Bell's turn to make an excellent save - his one-handed stop preventing the ball from swerving into the top corner.
Thompson came close again just before the half-hour mark when the ball fell to him six yards from goal after Teale's dangerous delivery. He slipped the ball beyond Bell, only for it to roll inches past the post.
The home side looked more likely to grab the next goal and Thompson completed a hat-trick of missed chances when he headed straight at Bell from close-range after connecting with Barron's cross.
Both teams made one change at half-time, and it was the hosts who made the brighter start and Bell made another fantastic stop to keep out Lewis Guy's back-post header.
With 22 minutes remaining, St Mirren were awarded a penalty of their own after Imrie was felled by O'Hara, McGowan sending Bell the wrong way from the spot to level proceedings and ensure an exciting conclusion to the match.
Both sides showed a determination to grab the winning goal in the closing stages and Barron almost found the net from 30 yards in the final minute.
It was to be the last chance of the match, though, ensuring both teams had to settle for a point in their first match of 2013.