Document and Entity Information - USD ($)
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2015
Mar. 21, 2016
Jun. 30, 2015
Document And Entity Information [Abstract]      
Document Type 10-K    
Document period end date Dec. 31, 2015    
Amendment flag false    
Document Period Focus FY    
Document Fiscal Year Focus 2015    
Current fiscal year end date --12-31    
Entity central index key 0001123494    
Entity current reporting status Yes    
Entity filer category Accelerated Filer    
Entity registrant name HARVARD BIOSCIENCE INC    
Entity voluntary filers No    
Entity well known seasoned issuer No    
Entity common stock shares outstanding   34,041,949  
Entity public float     $ 183,544,144
Non Affiliate Share Holding     32,200,727
Trading Symbol HBIO