Document and Entity Information - USD ($)
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2017
Mar. 09, 2018
Jun. 30, 2017
Document And Entity Information [Abstract]      
Document Type 10-K    
Document period end date Dec. 31, 2017    
Amendment flag false    
Document Period Focus FY    
Document Fiscal Year Focus 2017    
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   35,594,802  
Entity public float     $ 73,064,219
Non Affiliate Share Holding     28,652,635
Trading Symbol HBIO